Before you divorce an abusive partner, you must take measures to protect yourself and your kids. Otherwise, your abusive partner can hurt you in various ways (physically, emotionally, and financially, among other ways). Here are some of the measures that can keep you safe.
Know When to Leave
Many people will tell you not to leave your marital home before you conclude your divorce. That is generally good advice because:
- You give your partner de facto custody of the kids if you leave your marital home and leave the kids. De facto custody can easily become a permanent custody arrangement if you are not careful.
- Your spouse might take out their frustrations on the property you might leave in the home.
- Your spouse might gain exclusive use of the home through the court.
However, you shouldn't stay in your home if your life is under threat, just because of the above reasons. Determine whether your partner is likely to cause you physical harm or not. Let your gut feeling, your partner's words and actions, and your partner's past behavior guide you. Don't put your life at risk; leave if that is the only way you can guarantee your safety.
Get Protection From the Court
You might be safer if you run away from your marital home, but your partner might still hurt you in other ways. The best way to get as much protection as possible is to go to the authorities. Call the police if you think your life is in imminent danger. Consult a lawyer if the threat is not imminent and you need medium-term protection from the court.
If your application is successful, the court can grant you a temporary restraining order (TRO) to protect you from your spouse. A TRO can help keep your abusive partner away from you and your kids until a full hearing can grant you permanent protection.
Gather the Relevant Documents
You can't predict what your abusive partner will do. For example, they may lock you out of the marital funds, destroy or hide your title deeds, or even hide your children's passports. Expect the worst and gather the relevant documents before your partner does any of those things. Make copies of marital documents and secure your documents in a safe place.
Here are some of the documents you should have:
- Birth certificates
- Copies of property deeds and titles
- Copies of financial statements
- Medical records
- Police or court documents such as TROs
Add any document you think is relevant or important to the list above. The more documents you can gather, the more you will protect yourself from your partner's actions.
Don't go through an abusive divorce alone; get all the support possible to make the process a little bit easier for you. Support can come from friends and relatives, a professional therapist, support or self-help groups, and even a divorce lawyer.
Don't forget, however, that you should only listen to the advice of a professional lawyer on legal matters. Let your support group help you in other ways, but don't take their legal advice as the truth.
Avoid Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce, where you settle your divorce without the court's involvement, is a good way to reduce the cost and duration of a divorce. Unfortunately, collaborative divorce is not a good idea if you have an abusive partner.
For a collaborative divorce to work, you should be able to sit down with your partner and negotiate your divorce issues on an equal footing. That won't likely work if your partner is abusive. Get a divorce lawyer to ensure you get a fair divorce settlement.
Your partner's abusive acts weaken their child custody battle. According to the California legislature, the occurrence of domestic violence in a home harms the children's welfare even if the children are not the direct targets of the violence. Contact the Novack Law Offices to help you navigate your divorce and get legal protection from your abusive partner.