Many people watch a lot of courtroom drama shows and courtroom "reality" shows, most of which are hardly reality at all. Usually what you see happening between divorcing couples on these shows is scripted, since there is very little in the way of accusations and compensation allowed in family court. If you are worried about your ex and what he or she might do or say in family court, or you are wondering what legal claims you can make against him or her and the proof you will need, the following information should help.
Claims of Abuse
Emotional and psychological abuse are extremely difficult to prove without extensive therapy records, which in most states might not be allowed because of patient/client privilege and the protection of personal medical records. However, physical abuse is well-documented by the police, as is sexual abuse if you ever claimed your spouse raped you or molested the children. These documents are not only acceptable to most family courts, they are required if you are attempting to prove that your ex abused you and/or the children and that is the reason you are seeking a divorce. In some instances, they may also be required if you are seeking alimony for which you are not entitled under state law because you were not married long enough.
Claims of Infidelity
Absolution of a marriage based on infidelity also requires some proof. One or both partners must acknowledge their unfaithful actions, but since this often results in the unfaithful partner paying alimony, it may require proof. This is why many divorcing couples may have a private investigator tail their spouses prior to the first divorce filing and court appearance so that photos and/or receipts showing the purchases of expensive gifts, hotel rooms, etc. can be uncovered/discovered. Jealous or angry and retaliatory ex-spouses may try to reverse this claim by having you followed by a private investigator, so it is important that you avoid any acts of impropriety or actions that could be misconstrued in court as infidelity.
Claims of Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering in a divorce proceeding may only apply if your ex's actions left you visibly scarred, penniless when you were wealthy, and/or dying of a disease (e.g., AIDS/HIV, hepatitis) that was transmitted during physical contact with your ex after he or she knowingly or unknowingly had unprotected sex with an infected person. (These are easy enough to prove with medical and police records or bank documentation.) The laws vary by state, and some of them may not recognize the conditions for pain and suffering and additional compensation in a divorce case, but it is worth looking into with your lawyer. There may be a loophole that will allow you to include P&S in your case.
To learn more, contact a law firm like Novenstern Fabriani & Gaudio, LLP.
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