Legal Abuse

What is “Legal Abuse”?

The term “legal abuse” refers generally to the improper or unjust use of some available legal action. The abusive action often occurs within the context of litigation, whether civil or criminal, but also can be carried out by others outside of the courts, such as law enforcement officers.

For our purposes, we use the term to describe a litigant’s use of the courts for a purpose other than a proper judicial function. More specifically, we focus on those cases in which there is a history of domestic abuse which appears to be continuing in the family court arena. In such cases, the abusive spouse or partner avails him- or herself of the courts to harass, oppress, intimidate, and otherwise injure the former spouse or partner.

This is a complex problem, so we have created this category of articles so we can give this problem the attention necessary to resolve it.

Our Goal: Ending Legal Abuse

One way we’re achieving our goal of stopping legal abuse is by shining a light on specific incidences of legal abuse in family courts to help judges, lawyers, and litigants understand and recognize when it is occurring. Once you start reading the stories we publish here, we think you will agree that anyone’s use of the courts to harm others is a scourge on our justice system and a denial of victims’ equal rights and due process protections.

In addition to publishing abuse survivors’ accounts of their experiences in courts, we are actively engaged in advocacy projects before the courts and legislatures. We will report to you on those projects and the progress we make here, in this category.

Why are we tackling this problem? Because in courtrooms where legal abuse is committed unchecked, domestic abuse survivors have not fully escaped their abusers, and pro se litigants are disadvantaged exponentially because they are forced to advocate for themselves in the presence of their abusers. We take these actions to improve the courtroom environment for pro se litigants, and in doing so, improve the courtrooms for all litigants.


Ask an Attorney: Should I Convince the Judge my Ex is a Narcissist?

Courtroom

Question I just listened to your interview posted from the WNAAD event. Thank you. It seems you suggest that litigants shouldn’t draw attention to the cluster b disorder, but bring up behavior facts. I understand that now, and although I have never called him any names or referred to him…

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Interview for WNAAD

World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day Logo

  World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day I recently was privileged to participate in World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day by discussing litigating in family court against former spouses or romantic partners who are narcissistic abusers. The interview is titled, Legal Battles with Cluster B Individuals in Family Court: What to Expect, When…

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From Terror to Triumph: How Jenna Overcame Her Anxiety and Won in Family Court

Jenna* had been embroiled in litigation with her ex-husband for years. Every so often he would bring some trivial matter to the court, painting Jenna as a bad parent, and always keeping her on edge. This time, Jenna’s ex had filed a motion, complaining that Jenna was making decisions about…

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Florida DV Victim Goes to Jail

Update (Sept. 1, 2016): The judge described in this post was charged with violations of Florida’s judicial conduct rules and reprimanded by Justices of the Florida Supreme Court. Read the story in the Orlando Sentinel. Original post (Oct. 7, 2015): A Florida judge found a domestic violence victim and single…

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C.R.’s Story of Legal Abuse

C.R.’s nightmare began disguised as a dream. One day many years ago, C.R. met a handsome and charming man. You know the story: They were young and beautiful and he swept her off her feet with fireworks and dizzying chemistry. He lavished her with romance until C.R. felt loved like…

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