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Legal abuse: It may happen during the divorce process

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2022 | Divorce

Residents of Snohomish County, western Washington state and other parts of Washington may want to learn more about what “high conflict divorce” really is. The term is, in reality, a form of post-separation legal abuse.

According to Psychology Today, this is a form of domestic abuse, in which control over their ex-partners takes place through the legal system. Custody disputes, for example, often see the term “high conflict divorce,” when the reality is that one person heads towards conflict, while the other retreats from it.

Use of the court to harass partner

Abusers drag the other person into court repeatedly. It may continue over years, as the abuser creates a situation that may never see resolution. The problem is not in the couple, but in the abuser who wants the divorce case to drag on and on.

Abuser calls other “mentally unstable”

An abuser may cause loss of time with children for the other parent, by causing the false narrative of “gaslighting.” They may say that the other parent, who they term “mentally unstable,” is causing alienation with their children.

Although children of real abusers may need protection from a certain parent by a limit on their time, legal abuse may be a tactic to bring the other parent into court repeatedly.

Abuser forces them financially

By dragging them into court repeatedly, the legal abuser may cause financial hardship on the other spouse. The court battle may stretch into years and result in the survivor spouse having to resort to extreme means to protect the children or, worse than that, move back in with the abuser.

Suggestions to judges

Seen as master manipulators, these abusers should receive the following from the court:

  • Find abuser in contempt
  • Understand abuser profiles and patterns
  • Watch for signs of legal abuse during court and mediation process
  • Sanction abusers for frivolous motions
  • Be wary when granting visitation to abusers; write agreements that reduce the contact between parents

Coercive control is real. Victim-survivors who suffer from post-separation legal abuse must receive protection after they separate. They may be a victim of abuse during the marriage, but they should not be one after the marriage sees its ending.