The client’s wife sought to divorce her husband because of his violent outbursts in the home, which were causing her fear and beginning to cause their 1 year old child extreme anxiety. These outbursts occurred in the evenings after the husband was asleep (night terrors). The Client and her husband earned approximately the same incomes, and owned their apartment. The Client’s priority was to protect herself and the child from her husband’s night terrors and establish a separate home for them away from her husband. The husband refused to acknowledge that he had night terrors and he did not want a divorce.
Normally, where the psychological health of a parent is an issue in a divorce matter, the Court will appoint a neutral expert to conduct a forensic evaluation of the parties and to provide it with an opinion regarding what custody and visitation is in the child’s best interests. In this case, the Client wanted to avoid the disruption and expense of a forensic evaluation. To provide the impetus for a negotiated settlement, the firm presented evidence of the night terrors to the husband’s attorney so he could help the husband understand the seriousness of the problem. As a result, he agreed to a regular daily visitation schedule with the child (no overnights) until the child was old enough to understand the night terrors (and protect himself if necessary). In addition, the parties agreed to sell the marital apartment, share the proceeds of the sale and move into separate homes. Since the husband was resistant to reaching any agreements, we proactively engaged the court process to provide the guidance he needed to sign an in-court agreement.
The Client felt her needs and concerns were protected by the Marital Settlement Agreement. The marital apartment was sold, and she moved with the child to a home that was safe. The husband began his daily visits with the child and he began paying the Client child support according to the law.