Protecting Your Rights: Divorce and Domestic Violence

If you or your children are victims of domestic abuse, taking action to protect yourself and your family can be very difficult. With your physical safety or that of a member of your household at risk, fear of harm may be stopping you from getting help. When you are ready to take the first step, there are many legal devices available to protect you and your family. To ensure your protection, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

  1. Have a plan. If you are planning to leave a violent living situation, it is important to have a plan in place. Consider packing a suitcase and securing a new living situation ahead of time. Make sure that your new living situation would not be obvious to the violent spouse. Additionally, keep record of any instances of domestic violence to be used in future legal proceedings.
  2. Get legal help. An attorney can help you make arrangements for financial stability, safety for you and any children involved, and moving forward with a divorce. There are legal provisions that protect those who leave a situation of domestic violence from financial ruin.
  3. Get a protective order. If your spouse is the perpetrator of domestic violence, you may seek a court order to keep the abuser away from you. You may seek such an order if you have been harmed, or if your spouse has attempted, or threatened, to harm you.
  4. Get legal custody of children. If you have children, it is important to protect them from a violent situation by asking a court for an emergency custody order. This will be a temporary order, but a potential long-term arrangement may be available in the future. Typically, however, if abuse of children is not a concern, the abusive spouse may still have visitation rights.

Make sure you contact an experienced attorney to help you secure your rights in pursuing a divorce involving domestic violence.

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