What is Harassment During Divorce?

Spouses often harass other spouses after they receive a divorce complaint for many reasons and in different ways. Harassment during divorce includes a spouse who harasses you because of anger that the marriage is ending and anxiety over their life after the divorce. Harassment during divorce may be due to a spouse trying to pressure you to negotiate an unfavorable property agreement.

Harassment during divorce can take forms such as verbal abuse, physical harassment, financial pressure, and social media abuse. Our skilled New Jersey divorce lawyers fight for your right to file and litigate your divorce issues without threats and without being harassed. We pursue all legal remedies including filing restraining orders and arguing that the harassment should diminish your spouse’s right to equitable distribution and parenting time with your children.

Different types of spouse harassment during divorce

  •       New Jersey has a criminal definition of harassment. Harassment includes communications at “extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm,” Harassment includes certain physical acts and touching. Harassment also includes repeat communications with the intent to annoy you. If convicted, a spouse/defendant will have a criminal record and may be sentenced to jail.
  •       There is a separate harassment law for cyber-harassment. This crime includes online communications through any electronic device or social networking site with the purpose to harass you and includes threats to your physical safety, posting or threatening to post lewd content to cause emotional harm, and threats against you or your property

New Jersey also has a law called the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. This law was enacted to protect spouses and other family members from abuse. This law applies to many different types of domestic crimes and abuse including the harassment statute listed above and the cyber-harassment statute listed above. If spouse harassment during divorce, occurs you can seek a restraining order which orders your spouse to stay away from you and your home while the divorce is pending.

Verbal abuse in divorce

Verbal abuse is a type of harassment. It’s often harder to assess because there isn’t physical evidence. There are ways to help document verbal abuse – even if it’s just writing down what was said as soon as possible so you remember the words and can show that the abuse was so scary that you needed to record it. 

Verbal abuse can directly affect your emotional and physical well-being. Verbal abuse often leads to physical abuse. Verbal harassment during divorce includes attempts to intimidate you and control you through verbal communications. Examples of verbal harassment include:

  •       Yelling
  •       Trying to make you lose your self-esteem
  •       Making unfair accusations
  •       Trying to scare you
  •       Embarrassing you
  •       Making threats about hurting the people you care about

Being upset is to be expected. Harassment is not to be expected. There are rules of civility in any dispute. When a spouse verbally abuses you to the point of trying to frighten or control you, you need to speak with our respected New Jersey divorce lawyers. We may discuss your case with your spouse’s lawyer if he/she has a lawyer. We often file a restraining protect you and your children.

Physical abuse in divorce

If your spouse physically touches you or hurts you in any way, you have the right to request a restraining order. You also have the right to file criminal charges. Harassment during divorce that includes any type of physical abuse including slapping, choking, punching, or kicking is unconscionable. You should seek medical and legal help immediately.

Harassment during child custody

The safety of you and your children are one of the factors family law judges review in custody cases. If your husband harasses you in any way, you can assert that harassment as a factor in seeking to deny your spouse physical or legal custody of your children – and any visitation with your children. 

Obtaining a divorce harassment restraining order

You and your children have an absolute right to feel safe and secure while a divorce is pending. Harassment of a spouse during divorce is grounds for seeking a temporary restraining order based on your testimony and any physical evidence you have such as a medical report. After a full hearing, where your spouse has his/her say, you can seek a final/permanent restraining order.

Generally, you will need to prove that your spouse violated the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act by harassing you or by cyberstalking you. You will also need to show why a final restraining order is necessary. 

If you meet the requirements for obtaining a divorce harassment restraining order and/or a cyberstalking restraining order, your spouse can be ordered to:

  •       Vacate the family home.
  •       Surrender any firearms or weapons.
  •       Stay away from you physically everywhere – home, work, and in the community.
  •       Cease any and all types of harassment.

If your spouse continues harassment during divorce, he can be arrested and imprisoned.

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our family lawyers fight to stop any harassment during divorce, to obtain restraining orders for harassment during divorce, and enforce the restraining orders if the harassment during divorce continues. To discuss your divorce and your safety, call us at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Florham Park.

Rosanne S. DeTorres
Ms. DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. She is also only one of 150 attorneys in the State of NJ that is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Ms. DeTorres graduated...
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