Do you want out of your marriage but are too afraid to bring up divorce? You may feel stuck in your relationship if you have previously been the victim of violent behavior or you are worried that asking for a divorce will lead to abuse. You might feel like you will never be able to leave. However, you do have options. In addition to pursuing criminal charges, you can use civil orders of protection to gain distance and safety during and after a divorce.
Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse
You may be concerned for your safety despite nothing serious having happened yet. If your instincts are telling you to be wary or afraid of your spouse, listen to them. There are many warning signs of domestic violence, including your partner:
- Name calling
- Ridiculing you, particularly in front of others
- Pushing, grabbing, or restraining you
- Controlling your actions, movements, and schedule
- Controlling your finances
- Taking away your cell phone or monitoring your calls and texts
- Threatening you
- Forcing you to engage in sexual activity
- Threatening your children
- Threatening your children to control you
- Forcing you to take drugs
If your husband or wife exhibits any of these behaviors, you are at risk for abuse. As long as you do not fear for your or your children’s immediate safety, contact me as soon as possible to learn your best options for obtaining a divorce safely. If you are ever immediately afraid for your or your children’s safety, get to a safe space such as a neighbor, friends, or family, or hotel. Always put your and your children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being before your divorce considerations.
Have You Been Hurt Already?
If you have been injured by your husband or wife in the past, call me as soon as possible. We will figure out the best way to move forward with a divorce. If at any point you are being attacked or afraid for your safety, get to a safe place as soon as possible and immediately call the police. Keep in mind that your spouse does not have to strike you before you can call for help. You do not need to have physical marks from the abuse. If he or she throws objects at you or threatens to harm you, you have the right to seek protection from law enforcement. Also, if the violence is directed toward your children instead of yourself, the same principles apply. Do not wait for the violence to escalate before contacting the police.
Once you are safe and have filed a police report, the next best step is to contact a lawyer. I understand how difficult and scary this situation is. My only priority will be to ensure your and your children’s safety. I can explain how an order of protection works. If you agree, I will seek a temporary protection order, which does not require serving your spouse or having him or her in court. This order will be valid for 21 days, at which point we will need to attend a full hearing to obtain a permanent protection order.
Seeking a Long-term Protective Order
You may be intimidated to seek a permanent protection order against your spouse. After all, this includes having to attend a hearing in front of a judge and seeing him or her on the other side of a courtroom. However, this is one of the best civil methods to protect yourself and your children from future harm.
When seeking a permanent order of protection, we will need to provide evidence to the judge that abuse has occurred, such as:
- Physical violence
- Interference with personal liberty
- Willful deprivation
Your spouse will also have the right to offer evidence and testify at this hearing. This will be difficult to witness, but I will work with you to ensure you have the support you need to get through this time.
Fighting for Custody of Your Children
When you seek an order of protection for you and your children, the judge can also make temporary decisions regarding custody and visitation. If you are worried about your children’s safety while with their other parent, I will ask the judge to grant you full custody and deny visitation until these issues can be finalized during the divorce proceedings.
You do not have to suffer through an unhappy and violent relationship. There are methods to keep you and your children safe while seeking a divorce. Call my office at (312) 621-5234 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.