How Domestic Violence Could Impact Your Divorce
When there is domestic violence in a marriage, ending that marriage is usually more complicated than a typical divorce. Domestic violence includes any type of physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, emotional abuse, or another form of harassment inflicted on one spouse by the other. If you or your child are the victim of domestic violence, it is important that you prepare for your upcoming divorce by understanding what to expect from the legal process.
Whereas other couples may be worrying about property division and financial costs, your primary concern is most likely how you can stay safe. While those other concerns might also be on your mind, the primary goal is to make sure you and your children are safe. In order to ensure your safety, talk to your lawyer about obtaining a temporary restraining order for immediate protection. Next, you can go through the process of retaining a more permanent court order.
On a more practical level, make sure you and your children have a safe place to stay. Move in with a relative or find a domestic abuse organization near you that can help you find refuge as you prepare for the next step. Don’t be afraid to call the police if you are threatened or feel in danger.
Criminal Charges & Filing for Divorce
Unfortunately, when you have dealt with domestic violence you can almost guarantee your divorce will be more complicated as a result. You can discuss your options with your lawyer, but it is likely you will want to file criminal charges against your abusive spouse. These charges could include harassment, stalking, trespassing, rape, assault, or a number of other crimes. Amid these legal complaints, you will also begin gathering your legal information and documents to help prepare your petition for divorce. Your lawyer can then have these divorce papers served to your spouse.
Preparing for Contention
Many spouses worry their divorce might become contentions, but those who were abused by their spouse usually have concerns about much more. You might worry about your safety, the safety of your children, and how difficult it will be to see your spouse in court. Resolving your divorce through mediation will be difficult if your spouse is contentious, which means the other option is divorce through litigation. In either case, your lawyer can handle the talking so that you won’t have to interact with your spouse any more than absolutely necessary. There may be difficult topics that could instigate fights, such as child custody, property division, and so on, but these can all be handled through negotiations by your respective lawyers. Any wishes you have about these matters can be expressed to your lawyer so that you do not have to further instigate your spouse.
The emotional toll of divorce is difficult for anyone, especially those dealing with divorce from their abuser. Prepare yourself for the difficulties that may come with this divorce. Seek comfort in friends, family, and consider seeing a therapist or counselor. The divorce process will probably be very difficult, especially if your spouse harbors any feelings or anger towards you for leaving and filing for divorce. In any case, be emotionally prepared and physically ready to protect yourself from further harm. If at any time you fear your spouse may try to become abusive again, contact the police and enforce your restraining order.We understand how hard it can be to divorce an abusive spouse, which is why we want to help. Contact McKinley Irvin at our Washington office for help with your divorce.