Everything You Need to Know About Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Any abusive relationship can be dangerous and difficult to get out of, but an abusive spouse can be especially challenging to escape. If you are ready to leave your abusive marriage, there are ways in which a lawyer can help. When you are ready to seek a divorce, it is important that you follow the right steps, but in situations where domestic violence is involved, this becomes especially crucial. To protect yourself, make sure you take the right precautions when leaving your abusive spouse.

Reach Out For Help

First of all, it is important that you reach out to family, friends, and domestic abuse organizations who can help you. Your closest friends and trusted family members will want to help you and protect you however they can, so trust them with the truth and take the initial steps to face your current situation and find the support you need. Whether you are on your own or have children to look out for, there are various organizations out there geared towards helping individuals just like you.

When you reach out for help, make sure you are prepared to act quickly and protect yourself until you can get away. In other words, if your spouse is intrusive or controlling and monitors what you search online or who you call, make sure you cover your tracks and protect yourself. Many organizations, like The National Domestic Violence Hotline, can clear your browser history for you after you’ve visited their site. In the event that your spouse does find out and you believe you are in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.

Make a Practical Plan

Friends, family members, and domestic violence organizations can help you come up with an initial plan. First, you will want to pack up your essentials, and those for your children, if you have any, and find somewhere safe to go. In most cases, announcing your request for a divorce should be done personally, but in cases of abuse, you should definitely avoid confrontation and leave a note, email, or wait until your lawyer sends your spouse the appropriate papers. If you have children, do not leave them with your abuser. Even if your spouse has not abused them in the past, if you leave, your spouse may choose to use them against you.

Your plan should include a safe place to go and how to get there. If you have family members or friends you trust, make sure their home can be locked against your spouse if he or she may come looking for you there. Again, if you ever feel you are in immediate danger, call the police for help.

Develop a Legal Plan

Once your most immediate concerns have been addressed and you’ve left your abuser, you need to develop a sound legal plan to continue guarding yourself against your spouse’s intervention. If you were abused, your attorney will discuss your right to an order of protection. An order of protection can be granted immediately to prevent your abuser from contacting either you or your children. Once a temporary order has been granted, you can then work to petition the court for a more lasting order of protection. If you have children, you can also ask the court for temporary custody until a more permanent arrangement can be made.

The order of protection can also force your abusive spouse to leave the family home so that you and your children can live there safely. Under an order of protection, your spouse will be forbidden from contacting you, approaching you, visiting your home, your workplace, or your school. Getting away from your abuser often isn’t enough, but with legally-binding protection, your spouse will be required to give you the space you need, and if he or she breaks the order, the police can enforce it and protect you.

If you need help divorcing your abusive spouse, our experienced Yonkers divorce attorney is here to help. Contact Empire Law today to get started.