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What to Do if Your Spouse Is Verbally and Emotionally Abusive?


Physical abuse is not the only type that could cause irrevocable harm to your relationship. Emotional, mental and verbal abuse can just as easily cause a permanent rift. Abuse of any kind could greatly impact your marriage. It may be the reason you file for divorce in Colorado. If you are suffering verbal and/or emotional abuse and wish to divorce your spouse, take the following steps to do so safely and effectively.

Document Your Experience

Although Colorado is a no-fault state, meaning you will not have to prove your spouse is verbally or emotionally abusive, documenting what is happening could help you in other ways. If the nonphysical abuse turns violent, for example, you will have proof to show the police during a criminal case against your spouse. Even if your partner never gets physically violent, documenting incidents of nonphysical abuse could be helpful. Proof of abuse may show a judge, for example, that your spouse is not a sound parent during a divorce case. Never put your safety or that of your loved ones at risk, however, in trying to get proof of abuse.

Tell Someone

The most important thing to do as the victim of verbal or emotional abuse is to talk to someone you can trust for assistance out of your situation. Call a national hotline such as 1 (800) 799-7233 if you have no trusted friends or family members who can help. A representative can walk you through the steps of safely getting out of your abusive relationship. If your spouse becomes physically violent, take immediate action. Call the police, if necessary, to protect yourself. You can also contact a domestic violence relief center near you for advice and/or safe shelter.

File for Divorce

If you wish to leave your verbally or emotionally abusive spouse, file for divorce in Colorado. You must cite an irretrievably broken marriage for the courts to hear your divorce petition. If your spouse assents that your marriage is irretrievably broken, the courts will grant the divorce petition. If your spouse does not respond, the courts will take it as assent. Should your spouse refute that the marriage is irretrievably broken, your lawyer may be able to help you prove otherwise, with or without a trial. It will be your spouse’s burden to challenge your assertion with evidence. A lawyer can defend your stance to help you proceed with a divorce.

Navigate the Elements of Your Divorce

Verbal and emotional abuse may impact your Colorado divorce case. Even though you cannot list it as the reason for your split, the courts may still take any type of abuse into consideration when making decisions about marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony. Despite Colorado’s no-fault laws, verbal or emotional abuse could impact elements of your case.

  • Child custody. The standard a judge will use when deciding child custody is the child’s best interests. A judge will consider one parent’s history of verbal or emotional abuse when determining what is best for the child in a custody matter.
  • Marital property. If abuse contributed to issues such as your being unable to keep a job, this could lead to a judge awarding you the greater share of marital assets. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning the courts will decide what is fair for each spouse according to the situation.

Child custody is the greatest area of a divorce verbal or emotional abuse can affect. Proof that your spouse abused you in any way could convince a judge to rule in your favor during a custody battle. A child support lawyer could also help lead to a child support order if you receive primary custody of your child. A lawyer can help you work through all the aspects of your divorce case, including navigating how verbal or emotional abuse might affect things.

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