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Last Updated on: 2nd August 2023, 05:23 pm
Some states have adopted no-fault divorce laws. These are designed to eliminate the need to use fault grounds to obtain a divorce, whether these are abandonment, adultery or mental cruelty. In other states, however, couples have to meet state-mandated, residency requirements. Rather than waiting to meet these requirements, couples may want to pursue their cases on the grounds of emotional distress or mental cruelty. That’s because emotional distress typically has shorter and more lenient requirements for residency. If this is an avenue that you’d like to pursue, you’ll need to first get a clear understanding of what emotional distress is, and the steps that must be taken to prove that mental cruelty is indeed a factor in your divorce.
In some states, emotional distress may be defined with other legal terms such as cruel and inhumane treatment, mental cruelty, or extreme cruelty. When emotional distress is used as a grounds for divorce, you will need to show the court that your emotional distress is the direct result of ongoing mental cruelty on the part of your spouse. For instance, your spouse may be responsible for starting arguments without cause or provocation, continually criticizing your parenting abilities, screaming, yelling, or leaving the home for extended periods of time, and without making an effort to communicate about the reasons why. There are even instances in which belittling a person can be defined as mental cruelty. If your emotional distress is the result of any of these activities or behaviors, emotional distress might indeed be grounds for a divorce.
As the old saying goes, it does indeed take two to tango. Aware of this fact, the court system has reserved the right to deny the use of emotional distress as grounds for a divorce in instances in which a person is believed to be guilty of provoking cruel behavior. For instance, verbal attacks and belittling could be the direct result of adultery on the part of the other party. While the general consensus is that all forms of mental suffering should be sufficient for claiming mental cruelty, there are even sates with statutes declaring that the severity of the mental cruelty must be in relation to the length of the marriage. In this way, there are even tougher requirements for people who appear to have a history of accepting or tolerating mental cruelty, particularly over extended periods of time.
Unless the conduct of your spouse has caused documented, psychological or physical harm, mental cruelty and the resulting emotional distress may not be sufficient for obtaining a divorce. According to the court system, a person must have “grievous wounds” in terms of his or her mental feeling, or peace of mind that has be impaired sufficiently for disrupting this or her overall life health. Emotional distress caused by mental cruelty can also be deemed as a valid reason for divorce if it has utterly destroyed the objects and “practical end of matrimony”. For example, divorce might be granted if a spouse has badgered his wife to submit to an abortion, or if a wife has attacked the character of her husband and has fought to have his memberships with private organizations or clubs rescinded.
The Challenge In Proving Emotional Distress
There are times when simply testifying about the mental cruelty that was experienced and the emotional distress this has caused, is sufficient for obtaining a divorce. More often than not, however, it is best to have a trusted witness corroborate the events you’ve detailed, and to further bolster your claims with records obtained from a relevant health care professional. The more evidence that you can provide to show that your spouse has been mentally or emotionally abusive, the easier it will be to prove to the courts that your divorce should be granted in the applicable state, even if state residency requirements have yet to be met. One of the most important things to keep in mind about the legal process for divorce is that it is meant to bring about relief for those who are suffering, rather than to punish those who may be guilty of emotionally tormenting their partners.
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