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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 112677
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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My wife and I have allowed our son and his wife to live with

Customer Question

My wife and I have allowed our son and his wife to live with us for the past 6 months. Our son pays a minimal amount ($300 per month for himself and his wife) for all utilities, food, cell phone service, all other amenities. Recently, our son and his wife began arguing, each threatening to leave, and for no apparent reason, his wife has now been psychologically abusing my wife for the past week, with no provocation whatsoever on my wife's part (I have suspected for some time that our daughter in law has some mental health issues).As a result of our daughter in law's treatment of my wife (there has been no physical abuse), last night my wife was distraught nearly to the point of needing emergency treatment. Our daughter in law appears immune to any reason or entreaty that she act decently, and the problem likely will not be resolved by a normal discussion among adults. It can be assumed that our son will be of no help to my wife, or me, in this situation.I know that my wife does not wish to alienate our son, and her condition would likely worsen, to say the least, were I to, for instance, give our son and his wife notice and file an unlawful detainer action to force them to vacate (I'm assuming the $300 would be construed as rent).I should mention that our son is actually my stepson, and despite years of effort, I have never been able to communicate with him.Is there anything you see in this fact pattern that might allow me to help my wife out of this situation? I think the daughter in law has already violated this state's domestic abuse statute, but once again, to take that road would likely cause my wife serious emotional harm. I'm at my wits' end.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You can consider the agreed upon $300 payment as rent and as such they would be a month to month tenant without a written lease. This would also mean you would need to give them 30 day written notice to vacate the premises and you are terminating the lease with them. If they do not leave in 30 days, then you would have to file a suit in court for unlawful detainer and have them served and bring them to court to forcibly remove them from the property.
As far as the domestic abuse law, you would have to prove some type of actual attack and if your spouse is not capable of going through that and going to court, that is not going to work.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Under our statute, a threat of physical harm is sufficient, and my wife's physical health at large is being threatened . The statute also proscribes harassment, which is clearly the case here. And I know how to file an unlawful detainer action.The problem is that I can't avail myself of any normal legal remedies for reasons already explained in my question.Do you know of any type of "benign intervention" by some state agency that might be available in these circumstances?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
You said psychological abuse, you did not say threats of harm or violence were involved and that is a different thing from threats, so if there were actual threats of harm, your wife would have to be the one to pursue charges and if she is not able to do it then that is not a viable option.
You have no other "benign intervention." You can call adult protective services and have them investigate abuse of the elderly if she is over 62 and if not then your options are to tell her she has no choice for her health to give you power of attorney and once you have that you can indeed take action.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I suspect that if the abuser were put on notice that the psychological abuse was causing the victim to fear for her physical well being (and medical evidence supported the claim that the abuse was affecting her health), and the abuser continued the abuse, that would provide evidence of mens rea, but as I said, I don't want to have her charged with a crime.
Thanks for your answer.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
That would be a stretch, as psychological abuse can take many forms that do not amount to actual abuse under the DV statutes or laws. However, you can put them on notice that their conduct constitutes ordinary harassment and that would still be something you could pursue criminal harassment charges over even if it is not under the DV laws.