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What to Do When Your Divorce Involves Domestic Violence

Divorce is especially difficult if you are in a violent relationship. Your safety and the safety of your children should be your top priority.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, take immediate steps to protect yourself and your kids:

  1. Seek safety: The most dangerous period for individuals in abusive relationships is when they decide to leave. Find a safe place where the abuser cannot locate you.
  2. Get help: Reach out for assistance by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), texting “start” to 88788 or chatting live at org. Be cautious about using shared devices or networks that the abuser might access to monitor your activities. You can also contact VIBS or another local domestic violence agency.
  3. Plan for safety: If you have the time to plan, start setting aside cash and essential items in a secure location outside your home. Document every incident of abuse, noting dates, times and details. Create a list of safe people to contact and memorize important phone numbers.
  4. Gather important documents: Collect essential documents such as credit cards, birth certificates, social security cards and proof of income. Having these papers will be essential for legal action or applying for benefits after leaving.
  5. Utilize legal resources: Seek legal assistance from a lawyer. If you need to leave urgently, have your attorney seek a protective order from the court that prevents the abuser from contacting you. If you have children, ensure the order grants you custody to avoid potential kidnapping accusations.
  6. Stay safe: Change your phone number, keep your new contact information private and use public places for any necessary encounters with the abuser. Change locks on your home, vary your routine and inform trusted people at your workplace and your children’s school about your situation.

If you need help divorcing an abusive spouse, contact the trusted family law attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP right away.