What is Emotional Neglect in a Marriage?

What is Emotional Neglect in a Marriage?

Emotional neglect in a marriage occurs when one spouse does not provide emotional support or does not fulfill the emotional needs of the other spouse on a regular basis.

Signs of Emotional Neglect

  • The wrongdoer spouse not spending time with you
  • Lack of physical intimacy
  • Deliberately seeking ways to stay away from you, e.g., by staying long hours at the workplace, frequently traveling on business trips, etc.
  • Lack of trust in the marriage
  • Lack of empathy for you
  • Communication breakdown
  • Acts that force you to turn to family and friends for emotional support

Emotional neglect is a form of mental abuse that can make the neglected spouse feel worthless, cause severe mental trauma, make him/her feel emotionally insecure in the marriage, and likely trigger a divorce.

Emotional Neglect and Divorce

A spouse who has been abused constantly by neglect can file an at-fault or no-fault divorce petition. As of June 2022, only 19 states are true no-fault divorce states, i.e., you are not allowed to file an at-fault divorce petition in these states. The other states follow the at-fault divorce law but also allow spouses to file for no-fault divorce.

In the at-fault divorce petition, the petitioner has to allege emotional neglect on the part of the other spouse and conclusively prove the same in the courts. A positive outcome can favor the neglected spouse in alimony, child custody, and marital property distribution. However, since an at-fault divorce takes a long time to resolve, is marked by acrimony and deceit, and is costly, most spouses file for a no-fault divorce, wherein they don’t have to allege and/or provide conclusive evidence for emotional neglect.

However, while petitioning for a no-fault divorce, the neglected spouse can claim higher alimony, a higher share in the marital property, and sole child custody by providing evidence of emotional neglect.

How to Prove Emotional Neglect in the Courts

  • Emotional neglect can be proved by providing testimonies from expert witnesses such as therapists and psychologists.
  • The wronged spouse can also request his/her friends, coworkers, relatives, and neighbors who have witnessed the emotional neglect first-hand to testify in the courts.
  • Noting down instances of emotional abuse in detail in a personal journal or on an app or making an audio or video recording of instances of emotional neglect can also work as evidence.

To learn how emotional neglect can be used as a reason for divorce in an at-fault state, or used as a reason to get higher spousal support, child custody, and share in the marital property, get in touch with an experienced and reputed family law attorney.

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About the Author: Marco Brown
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Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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