This is a review of a divorce action which arose after a woman accused her husband of making continuing and threatening verbal assaults against her. She further contended her husband tormented her continually, beginning only months after they were first married. Her husband, she said, purposely and consistently physically and verbally assaulted her with threats of violence and divorce.
Before the divorce proceedings, the woman, with assistance from the Public Defender’s Office, had gotten a temporary restraining order against her husband.
Statement of Facts…
Mia Karos Allwin and Kris Allwin were married on January 7th, 2005. They met at a local furniture store where Mia worked as a cashier and Kris worked in the warehouse delivering furniture. Soon after their marriage Mr. Allwin began to exhibit bizarre behavior. He often went on drunken binges with his coworkers and came home at all hours of the night.
His behavior quickly escalated into verbal assaults on Mrs. Allwin. Mr. Allwin often berated her in front of her family and her friends referring to her as “fat,” “grotesque,” and “stupid.”
On more than one occasion Mr. Allwin grabbed Mrs. Allwin by her hair and dragged her across the floor of their home. He made frequent efforts to throw her down the stairs, succeeding on more than one occasion. He was also accused by Mrs. Allwin of punching her in her face. Medical records introduced at trial confirmed that on one occasion Mrs. Allwin suffered a fracture of her left cheekbone as well as a deviated septum.
After many years of abuse she said she could take it no longer. She testified she knew if she attempted to leave him he might harm or kill her. She also said the abuse had degenerated to a point that if she didn’t leave him she would in all probability die anyway.
She said she remembered when during her wedding vows she said she was marrying him for better and for worse, and until death they would part. She said she “didn’t think the death would be at his hands.”
Not having much money, the woman’s friends and family suggested she seek the counsel of one of the local attorneys in the Public Defender’s Office. Heeding their advice Mrs. Allwin sought out a Public Defender and filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against her husband. The TRO requested the Court issue an Order to Show Cause against her husband. This order would prohibit him from having any contact with her or her family members.
The Order would also require him to pay temporary support to her while the order was pending. The Court subsequently granted it and then set the Order to Show Cause hearing for 10 days from the issuance of the TRO.
At the hearing on the Order to Show Cause the husband attempted to persuade the Court to dissolve the Temporary Restraining Order against him. Over his objections, the Court transferred the Temporary Restraining Order into a permanent one. The Court continued the support payments as well as the prohibition against him coming within 500 feet of their home, or her employment.
At about the time she filed the Petition for the TRO the woman, with the assistance of the Public Defender’s Office, also filed a Divorce action.
The Petition cited as grounds for the divorce their irreconcilable differences which destroyed the legitimate ends of their marriage relationship and prevented any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. The divorce sought permanent possession of their home as well as an order for the husband to be responsible for the debts of the marital estate incurred since the date of the marriage.
As further grounds the woman recounted the numerous verbal assaults and inhuman treatment she suffered for most of her marriage.
At trial, Mrs. Allwin was called to testify by her attorney. When she took the stand, she had great difficulty testifying. On direct examination by her attorney she often became overwhelmed while recounting the years of physical and mental abuse she suffered at the hands of Mr. Allwin. She testified Mr. Allwin would often treat their family dog better than he did her.
Mrs. Allwin went on to testify that on more than one occasion Mr. Allwin grabbed her by her hair and dragged her across the floor of their home. Mrs. Allwin said Mr. Allwin made frequent efforts to throw her down the stairs, succeeding on more than one occasion. She also accused Mr. Allwin of punching her in her face. Medical records introduced at trial confirmed Mrs. Allwin suffered a fracture of her left cheekbone as well as a deviated septum.
Mrs. Allwin testified Mr. Allwin’s escalating verbal assaults and inhumane treatment against her took an extremely heavy toll. She testified he consistently came home at very late hours and often brought his friends home with him. She said on most occasions they were loud and belligerent.
On more than one occasion Mr. Allwin dragged her out of bed at two or three in the morning, forcing her under threat of violence to cook breakfast for him and his drunken friends.
When one night Mr. Allwin took a large knife out of the kitchen drawer and threatened to stab her if she didn’t get down and scrub the floor at 3 o’clock in the morning after one of his friends spilled his beer, she said she ran out of the house and slept all night in her car with the doors locked. She testified that was the very last straw.
On behalf of Mrs. Allwin her Public Defender called several witnesses to the stand. One after another, the witnesses recounted the many times they witnessed Mr. Allwin verbally and physically abuse Mr. Allwin. They also confirmed his drunken behavior as well as his constant demeaning of Mrs. Allwin.
The witnesses testified they often noticed welts on Mrs. Allwin’s arms and legs. On other occasions, they testified, Mrs. Allwin would call in sick for work because she was embarrassed to be seen with the blackened face and eyes she suffered at the hands of Mr. Allwin.
After hearing the arguments of Mrs. Allwin’s Public Defender and that of Mr. Allwin, the Court granted Mrs. Allwin’s divorce.
In the divorce the Court granted full possession of the couple’s home and furniture. The Court also ordered Mr. Allwin to assume all the debts of the marital estate existing at the time of the filing of the Divorce Petition.
- The verbal assault and inhumane treatment of spouses are often cited as grounds for divorce in many cases. Regrettably many divorces degenerate into the abuse of one spouse by another. Over 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Often the stresses of everyday life result in spouses turning on each other. The stress often manifests itself in mental and physical abuse.
- Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection are legal tools commonly employed in instances of physical or mental abuse in divorce actions. “TRO’s” are often granted when there is evidence one spouse has shown himself or herself to be a danger to themselves or to others around them, especially their spouses.TRO’s are often changed by the Court from Temporary into Permanent Restraining Orders. The permanency of the Courts’ actions when continuing a TRO into a Permanent Restraining Order is another tool employed by the Courts to help protect a spouse from continued physical or verbal abuse.
*This case example is for educational purposes only. It is based on actual events although names have been changed to protect those involved. Any resemblance to real persons or entities is purely coincidental.