How to legally deal with a verbally abusive ex-husband

Verbal abuse from an ex-husband can continue the pain and stress of a failed or abusive relationship, even after a divorce has been settled. Verbal abuse might occur in public, over the phone or when you are dropping off or picking up children from your former partner. There is no need to put up with this type of abuse and there are a number of options that the police and courts can consider to put a stop to it.

Gathering evidence

Any legal action against a verbally abusive ex-husband will require evidence. You should keep a diary of all incidents and ask witnesses if they would be willing to give evidence in court if required. If you contact the police, they may initially try to deal with the issue informally and have a word with your ex-husband. If this does not work you can present them with your evidence and state that you wish to press charges.

Public Order Act 1986

The Public Order Act 1986 can be used to address all forms of verbal abuse. The act covers offences where “threatening, abusive or insulting” language is used in a public place. Section 4a makes it an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting language if it is intended to cause somebody harassment, alarm or distress and succeeds in doing so. The maximum sentences are either six months imprisonment or fines up to £5,000.

Restraining orders

Restraining orders can be used to manage verbal abuse and harassment. They can be drafted to meet the particular circumstances of unwanted attention and conditions can include that a person cannot contact you directly, approach you in the street, or contact you by telephone, text or other means. If your ex-husband failed to adhere to the restraining order he could face criminal proceedings under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 might be used if police feel that the verbal abuse can be described as harassment. Under section 2 of the act, six months imprisonment or a fine can be imposed. The act also applies to offences such as stalking or fear of violence which might be considered if verbal abuse escalates. Complaints made under the Protection from Harassment Act need to be made within six months of the offence being committed.

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About the Author

Paul Bayliss has been writing since 2003 with work appearing in publications such as "Verbatim," "Your Cat" and "Justice of the Peace." He has worked for central and local governments in the U.K. and his areas of writing expertise are travel, sport and social work. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from Leeds University.