If you’re in an abusive marriage, it’s important to seek domestic abuse help immediately. If facing an imminent threat of danger, contact the police. At the very least, seek domestic violence help from a battered woman’s shelter, counselor or others who can provide assistance.
Abuse oftentimes creates a feeling of helplessness. The abuser may have taken control of every aspect of the victim’s life. It’s important to understand what you can do to protect yourself not only physically but financially as well. You also need to know how abuse may affect a divorce.
Protective Measures an Abuse Victim Should Take
The primary goals for victims are to gain emotional, physical and financial independence. Taking the first step toward breaking the ties that bind you to the abuser is critical.
Consider some of the ways you can protect yourself in an abusive marriage:
- open your own bank account (transfer your money and start saving);
- learn/understand your financial situation (debt, bank accounts, 401K plan);
- apply for your own credit card(s);
- have your personal mail sent to a post office box;
- keep copies of important documents in a safe location outside the home; and
- use a public computer or one inside someone else’s home for communication and set up a new email account (so your abusive partner cannot read your email).
It’s also important to hire an attorney. An attorney can not only assist with divorce proceedings but provide other guidance about how you can protect yourself.
How Abuse in a Marriage May Impact Divorce
Sometimes the court system will mandate that a couple filing for divorce must go through mediation. But if a spouse doesn’t feel safe, an attorney can help file a written objection.
Based on a history of family violence, the court may decide to skip mediation. If not, the court must take necessary steps to protect the spouse who filed the objection. This usually means putting both parties into different rooms and not requiring any in-person interactions with one another.
It’s also important to know that with a pending divorce, it’s possible to get a protective order. The court must inform the spouse of his/her right to apply for one when there is the potential for violence.
Also, the abuser may have to provide temporary spousal support if you’re not working or you make a living below the poverty line. An attorney can determine if this is a possibility and what you need to do to show it’s a need.
In some cases, it may lead to a permanent order for alimony. If convicted of family violence within two years from the date of filing for divorce, that spouse may have to pay spousal maintenance. But it’s only up to three years and it can’t be greater than 20 percent of his/her gross income.
Abuse in a marriage can create a variety of challenges when divorcing. It’s best to seek help from an attorney to learn more about protecting one’s rights. Call Warren & Migliaccio at 888-584-9614 to set up a consultation.