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How Can You Prove Emotional Abuse in Court?

Mar 10, 2022 | Domestic Violence

Any divorce attorney for women in Sugar Land, TX, will tell you that couples separate for a number of reasons, including emotional abuse. While you may be reluctant to discuss the traumatic events you’ve been through, doing so can benefit both you and your children. This means you’ll need to speak openly and honestly with a Houston, TX, divorce lawyer. Together, the two of you can then build a rock-solid case that speaks to the wrong you’ve endured.

Ask a Divorce Attorney for Women in Sugar Land, TX: How Can You and Your Divorce Lawyer Prove Emotional Abuse in a Houston, TX, Court?

This process starts with gathering evidence that substantiates your claims of abuse. You may want to first find witnesses who can testify on your behalf. Make a list of those who have seen or heard the abuse and include their contact information as well as what they know about your case. To illustrate, has a friend previously heard your spouse call you names? Has your sister witnessed damage to your property?

Write down as many details as you can and provide the list to your attorney. Also keep a record of each abusive incident as it happens. Include the following information to paint a picture of your marriage the courts will understand:

  • The date and time of each incident
  • What your spouse said or did (the manner of abuse)
  • Any actions you took in response
  • The relevant witnesses or evidence you can provide to support your claims


The Witnesses You Need

It’s important to know that anyone can be a witness. A law enforcement agent, family member, church leader, friend, or co-worker are but a few examples of those you might call upon to testify on your behalf. Some witnesses may come to court only if they receive a subpoena that legally requires them to appear and testify. Your divorce lawyer can help you obtain a subpoena form that will need to be completed and then given to the judge for their signature.

We know it can be hard to ask someone to step into the middle of a messy divorce and testify. But the evidence witnesses provide can help you receive most of the community estate, primary custody, or more visitation time with your children. This becomes even more likely if the witness explicitly saw or heard the abuse take place.

Additional Evidence to Gather

In a divorce proceeding, it’s helpful if you can establish a pattern of your spouse’s abusive behavior for the court to see. You should therefore save any emails, text messages, or voicemails that can further prove emotional abuse. Last but not least, take screenshots of your spouse’s social media posts if they speak negatively of you. Such diligence can help preserve the messages in case your spouse deletes them later.

Evidence for your case can also include:

  • Police reports, if you needed to call law enforcement to de-escalate a violent situation
  • Photos of the house in disarray after an argument with your spouse
  • A personal journal or diary in which you documented the abuse
  • Medical records from a therapist or other healthcare provider


A Word on Evidence

The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. But don’t be afraid to pursue your case if you have no documents or witnesses. Your testimony can also serve as evidence, meaning you’ll need to prepare to testify. But a divorce attorney for women will walk you through each step to ensure you’re ready to speak before the court.

Preparing to Testify

Preparing to testify requires that you practice telling your story. You’re the one who lived through the abuse, but that doesn’t mean you’ve previously had the chance to sit down and recount every event in a clear, concise way. By practicing with your Houston, TX lawyer or even in front of a mirror, you will likely feel less nervous when the day comes to share your story with the judge. And as you begin talking, you’ll likely remember new details crucial to your case.

Remember to relay your story in your own words and speak in a confident tone. It’s equally important that you focus on details relevant to the behaviors you listed in your divorce case. When describing arguments with your spouse, tell the judge if you were threatened or humiliated. Also include details of the circumstances surrounding the fight. Were you in a restaurant? At a holiday party? Having dinner with friends?

Give Specifics

You may be tempted to paraphrase things your spouse previously said to you, but it’s critical to be as specific as possible. Rather than saying your spouse made you feel incompetent, remember exactly what they said and provide details. “My spouse told me I will never be more than an underpaid assistant who cannot financially support my family,” is much more precise and convincing.

It may be helpful to make an outline of the abuse and study it. Memorize the details to give the court a complete account of the facts. You may be unable to read the outline aloud during your testimony, but you can use it as a refresher before you take the stand.

Consider Your Children

If you have children, you should ask your divorce lawyer about Houston, TX laws that allow you to discuss how your spouse’s abuse has impacted them. This information must be presented in a way that doesn’t portray you as failing to protect your child from harm. Don’t worry: your lawyer will know how to navigate all state laws so you can provide the necessary testimony.

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Physical abuse is often easy to define because it comes with visible markings. Emotional abuse, on the other hand, can be less distinctive. You might generally think of this abuse as any act intended to frighten, isolate, or control you. With this in mind, an abuser may subject you to manipulation, excessive jealousy, insults, threats, and constant monitoring.

Examples of emotionally abusive behaviors include:

  • Withholding affection or attention as a form of punishment
  • Constantly accusing you of cheating
  • Demanding you ask permission to spend time with others
  • Humiliating you before family members or friends
  • Requesting access to your email, social media accounts, and phone


All Abuse Is Relevant

Generally speaking, any abuse experienced during the relationship is relevant to matters of divorce or custody. The most recent incidents are especially important, but courts in and around Sugar Land, TX, will often consider any allegations of abuse. And an incident does not need to be reported to the police to carry weight in the courtroom. The fact that it happened at all means it can be used as evidence.

Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe

It’s important to understand emotional abuse can escalate to physical abuse, especially if you’re the one who files for divorce. Your spouse will feel they’re losing control over you, and this can cause them to react in extreme and dangerous ways. A divorce attorney for women can help you take the necessary measures to safely separate from your spouse and build a better, brighter future.

Courts around Sugar Land, TX, recognize emotional abuse as grounds for divorce and, if shown the proper evidence, respond accordingly. This means that with the aid of witnesses, journal entries, phone records, and photos, you may receive more community property and/or greater custody of your children. But you first need a team of lawyers who will fight for your rights. Learn more by contacting Skillern Law today.