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Orange County Family Law Attorney

Children Used in Emotional Abuse Ploys

Sadly, many children are used as pawns in divorce proceedings. Emotional abuse can wreak havoc on them.

Caught up in the throes of divorce, some people don’t stop to think that they may be using their children as emotional pawns; taking their own anger and hurt out on the kids. This is a difficult position for a child to be in; emotionally and psychologically. Those who would abuse a child may find Child Protective services stepping into the picture.

A child is considered to be the victim of emotional/psychological abuse when they are subjected to acts/omissions on the part of the parents, or other responsible caretakers, that caused or could cause serious mental problems, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems or cognitive disorder. Even if there is no harm to a child’s condition or behavior, Child Protective services may still step in.

Unfortunately, there are many types of punishment divorcing parents hand out that may range from the extreme and downright bizarre to less severe actions such as rejecting the child or constantly using them as a scapegoat. The parent is considered to be guilty of emotional abuse if they are unable or unwilling to respond to their child’s needs or rejects them. They are guilty of psychological abuse if the child is witness to spousal abuse, if the child is told they can take drugs or alcohol, or if the parent(s) refuse or fail to offer proper psychological care.

Emotional and psychological abuse takes on other forms as well, such as economic power over another or dependence dominance.  In cases that involve economic power or dominance, the kids are often used to wield power over the other spouse; to control them. Instead of directing their anger at the other spouse, the child is the target of abuse in order to cause the other partner severe distress.

The abuse may take on many forms such as yelling, screaming, shouting, threatening gestures, actions or looks. No matter what it takes to frighten the other spouse, the abuser will do it and use a child for the primary target to get at the spouse. Some abusers have been known to utter threats of taking the child without their knowledge, harming the child, or even making insinuations they would commit suicide.

If you are in an abusive relationship, you do not have to live in fear. There is help available by working with a skilled and compassionate attorney who is familiar with situations like this. Domestic violence must be dealt with promptly and decisively. Do not wait to get help.

If you live in California, you need to understand that domestic violence has a direct impact on child custody disputes. If you are facing a divorce and have been accused of domestic abuse/violence, it is critically important that you do everything possible to prevent a conviction if you wish to retain custody or visitation rights with your children.

Speak to a dedicated attorney who represents men and women who have been victimized by or who have been accused of domestic violence in marriage, domestic partnerships, dating relationships and same-sex partnerships. In trying times, a strong, aggressive advocate is the best ally for individuals involved in domestic violence cases.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.



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