If your spouse is abusing you either physically or verbally, you need to take steps to leave them. However, we understand that it can be frightening to think about what an abusive spouse will do to you if they find out you plan to leave them, which is why want to take the time to explain how to safely file for divorce from an abusive spouse. Being in an abusive relationship is dangerous and can complicate the legal process. This is why it is important to prepare ahead of time by seeking a qualified attorney who can advise you during this difficult time.
Make an Escape Plan
When you start your divorce process, you will want to first gather copies of important paperwork pertaining to your family’s finances. Make copies of any important financial documents you come across in your home. This includes
- Credit card bills
- Bank statements
- Your spouse’s pay stubs
Don’t keep the copies you make in your home. Ask someone you trust to hold onto them for you until you need them.
You will also need a way for people to contact you that your spouse can’t access. A post office box in your name or a disposable cell phone with prepaid minutes are two good options for this. You should also open a bank account in your name, but make sure you have your monthly statements sent to your post office box and not your home.
Consult with an Attorney
You should seek an attorney who has experience handling domestic violence issues and shows compassion for your situation. An attorney can inform you about your state’s domestic violence laws and how to go about initiating your divorce. Your attorney should also be able to file a restraining order against your spouse. This will force your spouse from your home.
However, a failed restraining order can enrage your spouse and make them even more dangerous. Your attorney can let you know if you should move in with your family or friends, or if you should attempt to pursue a restraining order. If you are in immediate danger, you should call the police and ask them to escort you and your children to a shelter.
File for Divorce
Once you are safely away from your spouse, your lawyer can arrange for them to be served with divorce papers. Depending on the laws in your state, you might be able to file for divorce on grounds of abuse or cruelty. These grounds can positively impact the amount of alimony, property, and custody you receive in your divorce settlement. Although some states require mediation as part of the divorce process, your lawyer can have this requirement waived if your spouse abused you.
Call Us Today
At Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC, our Fairfax divorce lawyers are dedicated to helping clients who are stuck in abusive relationships. We are familiar with these types of cases and we know how to make sure you are able to safely leave your abuser. Let us use our experience and resources to help you navigate your divorce.
Call (703) 935-4222 to schedule your appointment with our team in Fairfax.