Preparing to Divorce an Abuser
Resources for those seeking to leave a spouse have become more widespread in recent years, and divorcing an abusive spouse is more possible today with protections offered to the abused party. Even with strides being made to protect people from unhappy and unsafe marriages, divorce remains a complex legal matter. Divorcing someone abusive can make things all the more complicated.
Abusive behavior can take many forms, from physical or sexual to emotional and even financial. Because divorcing an abuser can be so complex, check out the steps below before you file for divorce.
Recognize Abusive Patterns
It can be difficult to recognize patterns of abuse, even as you are experiencing them. Knowing the patterns of an abusive partner can make it easier to recognize them and to document or take action.
Unsure whether you have enough evidence or grounds to claim you’re being abused? Talk to your lawyer about documenting and proving abuse:
- Physical Abuse – Your partner may be physically abusive if they hit, slap, punch, or kick you. When a partner gets physical with you, you may be afraid they’ll hurt you or another loved one, like your children. They may break your things or even threaten you with a weapon.
- Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse generally includes any type of unwanted sexual contact, from manipulation or demands to rape. Even if you’re married, you have a right to say no, and if your spouse has forced sexual contact on you, talk to a lawyer about your next steps.
- Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse may not leave physical marks, but humiliating, threatening, isolating you from loved ones, and constant insults are still abuse. Talk to your lawyer about recording incidents where your partner has hurt your mental or emotional health.
- Financial Abuse – Financial abuse refers to withholding or monitoring your finances. It can also include intentionally ruining your credit score or otherwise controlling your financial health.
Your lawyer is ready to help no matter what type of abuse you’ve faced. Identifying the type of abuse helps your lawyer determine the type of evidence you may need to gather. No matter the answer, your divorce lawyer will represent you in court as you seek a divorce.
Before divorcing an abuser, it’s important to make plans to keep yourself and your children, pets, and assets safe in case something goes awry. If you’re afraid of retaliation, acting now to protect yourself and others is important.
Before you do anything, check the security of your phone, computer, and other devices. Keep a list of emergency contacts somewhere easily accessible, such as your wallet or phone case. Put important documents like passports, birth certificates, and social security cards somewhere safe that your abuser can’t access.
Plan an escape route and a safe place to stay, such as a parent or friend’s house. Announce your decision for divorce in a safe space, so your abuser will be less likely to try to harm you.
If your abuser may harass or harm you, consider a restraining order or order of protection. A lawyer can help you file and speak to a judge about why you’re seeking this protection.
Document the Situation
When you’re facing abuse from a spouse, documenting the abuse you’re suffering can help you in court. This may include documents, video recordings, or even medical examinations. Your lawyer can guide you through gathering these resources.
Compile written evidence such as emails, text, social media posts, direct messages, and any psychological evaluation reports you may have of yourself, your children, and your spouse. If you have been physically abused, take photos of the aftermath (holes in walls, broken objects, bruises, cuts) and make copies of any medical records.
The more thorough you can be, the more solid your case will be. While you shouldn’t endanger yourself or others to get this evidence, it can help prove you suffered abuse in court, which can help your case if you’re seeking support from the court.
Find a Compassionate, Experienced Divorce Attorney
When you’re dealing with an abusive spouse, dealing with your divorce case can be difficult. Your ex-spouse may do everything in their power to lengthen the time spent in court, may refuse to cooperate, and may even place the blame on you. This can be disheartening, scary, and difficult to overcome.
That’s where a divorce attorney like Sarah Henry at Sarah Henry Law can step in. Your lawyer will help you take the right steps during the divorce process. Your lawyer will also represent you during any negotiations or litigation, protecting you from your abuser. They can help you kickstart your life free from your abuser.
If you are preparing to divorce an abusive spouse in or near Greenville, South Carolina, Sarah Henry Law is there to provide a compassionate, experienced perspective. Call 864-478-8324 today to see how a divorce lawyer can help you get answers.
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Sarah Henry Law is an experienced law firm located in Greenville, South Carolina. With more than 12 years’ experience litigating family law cases, Sarah is well-equipped to help you navigate the complex and challenging legal problems involved in your case. She has been counted among Greenville’s Legal Elite since 2016.
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