Most people enter into marriage with the hope that it will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. Abuse is one of the most commonly cited reasons that couples seek divorce. And while many people hear the word “abuse” and think of physical violence, emotional abuse can be just as damaging to a relationship.
If you are feeling trapped in a toxic and harmful relationship by an emotionally abusive spouse, know that you are not alone. Use our guide below to learn more about seeking a divorce for emotional abuse in Alabama.
Emotional Abuse and Divorce in Alabama: An Overview
According to one study, domestic violence, including both physical and emotional abuse, was cited by 27.8% of couples as a major reason their marriage ended in divorce.
However, when it comes to emotional abuse, specifically, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize the signs and know when it might be time to end the marriage as a result. Read on for more information on the intricacies of emotional abuse and divorce in Alabama.
What Constitutes Emotional Abuse
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), emotional abuse is defined as “a pattern of behavior in which one person deliberately and repeatedly subjects another to nonphysical acts that are detrimental to behavioral and affective functioning and overall mental well-being.” However, knowing when you’re in an emotionally abusive marriage is not so simple.
Below are some common signs of emotional abuse by a partner in a romantic relationship:
- Constant criticism, blaming, and belittling;
- Emotional detachment, displays of indifference, and coldness;
- Use of manipulation tactics, such as guilt-tripping or attempts at controlling the other partner’s thoughts and actions;
- Exertion of control over the other partner’s finances;
- Intimidation and threats of physical harm, divorce, or other things to instill fear and maintain control;
- Manipulation of the other partner’s perception of reality, causing them to doubt their own memory or perception, often referred to as “gaslighting”;
- Isolating the other partner from their friends, family, and support network; and
- Verbal aggression, such as yelling, name-calling, and use of other demeaning language.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are other signs of emotional abuse that may exist. Regardless of the situation, if you are experiencing any form of abuse, it’s important to seek help and lean into your support system.
Emotional Abuse Divorce Laws in Alabama
Alabama divorce law doesn’t specifically reference “emotional abuse” as a ground for divorce. Nevertheless, the existence of emotional abuse in a marriage can be used as a factor contributing to other enumerated grounds for divorce.
For example, Alabama Code § 30-2-1(a)(11) states that a couple may divorce where one spouse “has committed actual violence [against the other] or when from his or her conduct there is a reasonable apprehension of such violence.” If you have been subjected to emotional abuse by your spouse to the point where you fear that they may commit violence against you, speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options.
However, even if the aforementioned statute doesn’t quite fit your particular situation, there are still other options available to you. Alabama Code section 30-2-1(a)(9) provides an avenue for divorce where the court finds there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or family.” Thus, evidence of emotional abuse can be used to help support a claim for divorce on the basis that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Effects of Emotional Abuse on Divorce
The existence of an emotionally abusive spouse in a marriage can have significant effects on divorce. For example, the following divorce terms can be granted in favor of either spouse due to the misconduct of the other:
- Child custody,
- Property division,
- Spousal support, and
- Protection orders.
That said, each divorce proceeding is different, and the outcome will ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case.
Speak with a Family Law Attorney at Charlotte Christian Law Today
Divorcing an emotionally abusive spouse can sometimes feel easier said than done. That’s why we’ve devoted a large part of our practice to helping people navigate the divorce process in what can be one of the most challenging times in their lives.
At Charlotte Christian Law, we pride ourselves on putting our clients first and helping them overcome their hardships through strong and zealous advocacy. When you’re ready to take the next steps in moving forward with your life, give us a call at (256) 859-7277 or reach us online today.