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Dealing With Divorce When You Have an Abusive Spouse

Divorce can be challenging, even when it’s amicable. Navigating the process when your spouse is abusive, however, adds a new layer of difficulty and danger. Here are some tips to protect yourself when separating from an abusive partner:

    • Separate your finances: Many people are trapped in abusive marriages because they do not have access to their money. Before initiating a divorce, it’s important to start saving money in a separate account, which your spouse does not have access to.
    • Check for trackers: Abuse is often about controlling the victim. Abusive spouses have been known to use trackers on electronics, in vehicles and in purses to keep tabs on their spouse. Have your belongings checked for trackers before you leave.
    • Use your support system: If you have friends or family nearby, tell them what’s happening. They may be able to provide temporary lodging or funds to get to a safe home. If you don’t have anyone to lean on, call a domestic violence support hotline for guidance.
    • Record the abuse: Keeping a record of the abusive behavior is often helpful, especially if you have minor children. Write down a brief summary of each incident, along with the time and date and whether your children witnessed it. You may also tape record or video tape your spouse. Any recorded conversations that you are a party to with your spouse may be admissible in court.
    • Seek therapy: It usually takes domestic violence victims several attempts before they successfully leave. Working with a therapist can help you maintain boundaries, work through difficult emotions and protect yourself during the divorce process.
    • Work with a lawyer: Make sure that you retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible, and direct your spouse to communicate with them instead. Tell your attorney that you’re divorcing an abusive partner, so they can adjust their strategy to your specific needs. Although it can be embarrassing to tell other people about abusive relationships, your lawyer needs a clear understanding of your situation.

Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate this stressful process. For more information about divorcing when your spouse is abusive, call the seasoned divorce attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.