Protecting Yourself and Your Children When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Domestic violence takes many forms, including physical, emotional, and financial.  Abusers often aim to exercise total control over their victims by instilling fear, hopelessness, and poor self-esteem in their victims.  Victims of domestic violence may often find it difficult to get out of an abusive home and may fear filing for divorce.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are ways to protect yourself and your children during a divorce.

The first step is to start gathering important documents and any evidence that you may have of abuse.  These documents include birth certificates, proof of income, copies of leases, and bank and credit card statements.  Some abusers may restrict your access to this information.  If that is the case, do not worry, as your attorney will be able to get these documents for you during the divorce if you are unable to obtain them before you leave.  Pictures of bruises or other injuries as well as medical records are also helpful to take with you so you have immediate support for your allegations with the family court.

The next step is to make sure that you inform your attorney of the reality of your situation.  Your attorney has many tools at his or her disposal to help protect you and your children from future abuse from your spouse, but if your attorney is unaware of the abuse, he or she will not know the appropriate steps to take.  An attorney is able to file for a restraining order against your abuser.  The restraining order can provide that your spouse is not permitted to come near you or the children, and may also include that he or she must stay away from your work, your home, and the children’s school.  If you do not have an attorney yet, it is also possible for you to apply directly for a restraining order.  Once you have a copy of your restraining order, make sure to provide copies to any security agents at your place of work as well as the children’s school.  These people can be essential to your protection and support network, so make sure you keep them informed.

Finally, seeking assistance from shelters or other local support groups can be essential to helping you and your children heal and move forward.  In addition, these groups will be familiar with both legal and therapeutic resources to help you.

If you are in a domestic violence relationship, contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We can help you get out and get to safety. Please also check out our YouTube channel for other FAQs about divorce topics like this one. 
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