Although the divorce process can be challenging and problematic, it is even more contentious when domestic violence is involved. The truth is, attempting to file a divorce can trigger domestic abuse to occur or even make matters worse, which is why victims are afraid to take action and feel trapped in an abusive relationship.
Fortunately, there are certain legal steps domestic violence victims can take to obtain the protection they need to finalize a divorce. It is imperative that they hire an experienced family law attorney to protect their rights and wellbeing as they go through divorce proceedings.
The following are the important steps abuse victims should take when filing for divorce:
- Protect yourself – You understand the amount of harm your spouse is capable of, so you need protection against future attacks or threats of violence. If you fear for your safety when you announce plans for divorce or the situation has worsened during proceedings, you need to find shelter without telling your spouse. While you can stay with a family member or friend, there are also battered women shelters available.
- File a restraining order – You and your attorney can present evidence (i.e. photos, medical records, and record of police intervention) to the judge that demonstrates that your spouse is a danger to you when seeking a protective order. With a restraining order in place, your spouse is prohibited from contacting you or living in your home. Additionally, you will have temporary custody of your children.
- Pursue court litigation – Mediation is typically for couples who agree on nearly every single issue of divorce and wish to separate on amicable terms. However, that is not the case in divorces involving domestic abuse. While New York is a “no-fault divorce” state, you can file for divorce on grounds of “cruel treatment,” which means the judge will look for specific acts of physical or mental cruelty which occurred in the last five years.
- Get full custody – Child custody orders can be affected by evidence of domestic violence. If a spouse is abusive to a child or to another individual in front of the child, he/she will likely not gain custody. To protect kids from abusive parents, judges can order supervision by a professional during all scheduled visitation and restrict overnight visitation.
If you are involved in an abusive relationship and wish to file for divorce in New York, our Yonkers divorce attorney at Empire Law is dedicated to getting the outcome and protection you desire. Contact us for more information today.