Mental Cruelty

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In the context of law, the term mental cruelty is usually used as a ground for a court to grant a party divorce. Mental cruelty means a course of unprovoked and abusive misconduct towards one’s spouse, causing unendurable humiliation, distress and miseries so it impairs the complainant’s physical and mental health and it makes it impractical for the complainant to maintain the marital status. 

It is the complainant’s burden the prove that the acts committed by his/her spouse constitutes sufficient grounds of mental cruelty to justify a divorce. What constitutes mental cruelty depends on the specific facts in each case. While the laws about what constitutes mental cruelty may vary from states to states, usually a plaintiff has to prove that his/her spouse possess the malicious intent to cause the mental cruelty, such misconduct are repeated or persistent, and the plaintiff suffers both physical and mental injuries as a result. 

[Last updated in September of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]