Case Study: Verbal Abuse

If divorce was a picnic or a walk in the park, you wouldn’t need a lawyer. We see clients every day from all over the metro Atlanta area who are going through very rough times with their spouse and are dreading the divorce battle. Sometimes, very strong measures need to be taken to protect the client, both emotionally and financially. In this case study, Family Matters Law Group shares a story of a woman with an aggressive, emotionally abusive spouse. We make a big difference with all our clients, but this one was really special.

Case Summary

In this case, I had filed a routine divorce petition for a woman seeking certain assets and property, as well as custody of the minor children and attorney’s fees. In this case, my client’s husband counterclaimed, and he was asking for custody of the children as well. The husband and wife both earned a high income, but the husband earned twice as much as his wife.

What prompted the divorce filing was the abusive treatment shown to my client. My client was subjected to near constant verbal abuse and harassment. She was constantly being belittled and berated by her husband, even at times in front of the children. On top of this behavior, the husband was engaging in multiple extramarital affairs with several different women, all at the same time.

Key Issues In This Case

This case was challenging. You have a woman in an abusive situation who is seeking custody of the children, but her income is half of what her husband makes, and he also wants custody.

I had a lot of respect for my client, who was enduring daily verbal abuse even after the divorce filing. The husband would often tear into my client, then apologize and try to make it OK. It wasn’t OK.

At one point, the abuse became so bad that my client and the children were forced to leave the marital home. Now, instead of this being a financial battle, now it became a custody battle. Who was going to be awarded temporary custody?  Where would the children live?

We needed a resolution to this case that acknowledged the perilous situation of the mother, the negative mental and emotional impact of the ongoing hostility on the children, and a suitable financial outcome even with the high wages earned by both parties.

Action and Case Resolution

Given the instability of the children’s living situation, we needed to address temporary custody first. My client was awesome. She came to court prepared to show that she provided the main source of day to day care. Her documentation was impressive: text messages, doctor’s notes, school records, and other evidence that showed she was the primary caregiver.

(It’s not enough to say that you are the primary caregiver. You have to prove that you are the parent cooking those meals, picking up and dropping off those children, taking them to the doctor, helping them with homework, and all the other things that a caregiver is responsible for!)

We also asked the court for attorney’s fees so that my client could get some financial relief while the divorce was being finalized. We knew based on statements that he had made to her that his strategy was to “wallet whip” her into submission. Since he made more money, he could drag all the court proceedings out and really cause damage to her finances.

Given that he told her to her face that he would drain her dry of all her money, and given his abusive behavior, my client was awarded temporary custody as well as attorney’s fees. In the final hearing, my client was not only awarded primary custody of the children, but also a large number of assets and a very generous amount of attorney’s fees. This was truly a victory for the good guys!

Why I Took This Case

Divorce is one of the hardest things that people can go through in their lives. No one gets married thinking one day your spouse will be verbally abusive and attempt to take the children. Sometimes, people turn out to be different than we expect, and when things start falling apart, you need an ally, someone who has your back.

In this case, I saw a woman who was really trying hard to be the best parent and wife she could. Unfortunately, she was married to an aggressive, obsessive, controlling, irrational human being. She needed help. This client’s strength and caring, nurturing personality made me want to fight hard for her and to make sure she was taken care of financially moving forward.

If you are in any metro Atlanta county (Henry, Clayton, Fayette, Fulton) and you are in the middle of a contentious divorce, please contact Family Matters Law Group using our online contact form. We are your bright light during a dark time.