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According to Alpharetta divorce law, the grounds for divorce known as cruel treatment are characterized by willfully inflicting physical or psychological pain that reasonably justifies fear of danger to life, limb, or health. This has been explained to include emotional as well as physical pain.

Requirements for Divorces Based on Inhuman Treatment

At least one spouse must meet the residency requirement of having lived in Georgia for at least six months. The petitioner will need to file the proper paperwork with the Superior Court of their county and serve the respondent spouse with a copy. The petitioner must demand a jury trial if desired, otherwise it will be a bench trial. They should also indicate whether there are any minor children.

It is a good idea to request a family violence protection order (FVPO) at this time as well, if that is not already in place. The judge will hear the FVPO case first and issue an ex parte protective order, then within a month, will grant another FVPO hearing as well as the hearing for the larger divorce case. The court may issue a permanent protective order along with temporary divorce orders.

Proving Cruel Treatment

The burden of proof is on the petitioner to show that there was violence perpetrated by the respondent. The respondent is allowed to file a counter petition alleging cruel treatment, but not within three days of the FVPO hearing. The facts of each petition will be considered separately.

If there are criminal charges or convictions under family law against the respondent, then the petitioner will have little problem proving their case for cruel treatment. Even if there aren’t, the petitioner can file criminal charges or rely on the FVPO process to prove grounds of cruel treatment.

Examples of Inhuman Treatment that Successfully Lead to Divorce

In Alpharetta, divorces have been successfully granted on the basis of inhuman treatment claims for the following reasons:

  • Physical abuse such as battering, violence, denying medical treatment;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Economic abuse such as withholding access to funds or prohibiting the victim from going to work;
  • Stalking;
  • Making threats at work;
  • (False) accusations of adultery;
  • Denying conjugal rights; and
  • Abusive and insulting language (i.e., belittling comments or comparisons, threatening violence, and constant nagging, fussing, or quarreling).

The local tribunal recognizes that the label of inhumane treatment must extend beyond physical abuse, citing that mental anguish is as painful as actual bruises, and that which produces the one is not more cruel than that which causes the other.

Therefore, in Alpharetta, actual physical violence is not necessary to receive a divorce on grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. If the petitioner’s health is seriously affected by the defendant’s quarrelsome attitude, the court is likely to grant the divorce.

Which Inhuman Treatment Claims Are More Difficult to Prove in Court?

Isolated harmful acts are difficult to prove in court as claims of inhuman treatment. If the acts were few and far between, or if their severity did not result in danger to the plaintiff’s physical health (including deterioration caused by mental abuse), then the court is not likely to grant a divorce based on grounds of cruelty. Rudeness, insensitivity, and the isolated, accidental infliction of pain on a spouse are insufficient reasons for awarding a divorce on grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment in Alpharetta.

To be awarded a divorce based on inhuman treatment, the plaintiff must prove through a preponderance of evidence that their claims are true and also show the connection between the claimed cruelty and the breakdown of the marriage. A lawyer in our area can help someone prove or defend against claims of inhuman treatment.

What is the Role of Threat in the Context of Inhuman Treatment?

Inhuman treatment is a form of domestic violence, which Georgia law defines to include both injury and the threat of injury. Physical actions may include stalking, for example, but mental harm can also include threats.

A threat of violence or ruin is a form of mental abuse that serves to put the victim in a state of fear. The effects can be just as harmful on the victim’s health as physical violence, and the same remedies are available to protect oneself from abusive threats as from an act of violence, defamation, property destruction, or theft.

Victims who have experienced threats at their workplace can be protected if their boss requests an employer protective order. The employer has to investigate the facts and submit an affidavit stating that the employee has experienced violence – or the threat of violence – while at work. If the court is convinced to the level of clear and convincing evidence, the resulting protective order can last for no more than three years but is renewable upon timely request.

If you have questions about how to proceed with a divorce in Alpharetta on the grounds of inhuman treatment or need help defending against allegations of mistreatment put forth by your spouse, reach out to our firm.

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