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The impact of domestic violence on divorce

Divorce is rarely an easy process, and it can be made more difficult when there are abuse issues involved. If you're a woman divorcing your abusive husband, there are some things you can do to help make the process of ending your marriage easier on you.

Being honest with your attorney

Telling your attorney the truth is very important. All too often, women aren't direct about what is taking place in their marriage when they file for divorce. There can be several reasons for this, including:

  • A fear of retaliation from their abuser
  • A concern that they won't be believed
  • Worries over what others will think
  • Shame or other feelings where they believe it's their fault

It's very important that you put those things aside and allow your attorney to help you, so they can give you the best possible outcome in your case. There's no reason to be ashamed, and the abuse is not your fault. Your attorney wants to help you, and can do a better job of that when you're up front about the facts.

Seeking a protective order

A protective order, often called a restraining order, can be granted based on claims of domestic violence. If you're being abused, it's important that you seek out a safe place to live and then file for a protective order. This will be granted as a temporary measure, and then a hearing will be scheduled. You and your abuser must both appear at that hearing, and the restraining order may be extended at that point. It can be granted up to one year, which can help keep your abusive spouse away from you as you move through the divorce process.

Child custody and your rights

The custody of your children can be affected by domestic violence. In order to determine which of you will get physical custody, the judge will take several factors into consideration, including:

  • The ability of you or your spouse to care for the children on their own
  • Any claims of domestic violence or protective orders filed
  • The preference of the child if they are old enough
  • Other factors that may be specific to your case.

An abusive parent generally will not receive custody. They may have visitation, though, which is often supervised and may be limited to avoid overnight visits or the risk that the parent may flee with the child. Being honest with your attorney about the extent of the abuse is the best way to ensure that your children are not placed in a potentially dangerous situation.

What you can do to help stay safe

To help keep yourself and your children safe, there are some specific things you can do, such as:

  • Seek legal advice for your divorce
  • Locate a safe place you can go
  • Leave when your abusive spouse is not there
  • Get a protective order
  • Call the police if you feel threatened
  • Retain an attorney to represent your interests

Domestic violence can be frightening and put you in a stressful situation, but there are options to work through a divorce and remain safe. With good legal counsel, you can move forward confidently and end your abusive marriage.

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