Divorcing an Abusive Spouse
Domestic violence affects nearly three out of every ten women and one out of every ten men. If you are currently in or have recently left an abusive relationship, you know how devastating domestic violence can be. While divorce is often a stressful ordeal, a person divorcing an abusive spouse faces an especially daunting task. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you get through your divorce as safely and confidently as possible.
Keep Yourself Safe First and Foremost
If you are currently married to an abusive spouse, the most important first step for you to take is to secure your safety and the safety of your children. If you have been physically abused, take pictures of any injuries and get medical help immediately. An emergency order of protection (EOP) can be obtained from your local county courthouse.
These protection orders, also called restraining orders, can prevent an abusive spouse from being within a certain distance from you, your children, your place of work, and more. An EOP lasts 14 to 21 days and can be obtained without a hearing. If you need to establish a more permanent order of protection, you will be able to seek a plenary order of protection which can last up to two years.
Get Help from a Professional
One of the biggest issues for many victims of domestic abuse is that their abuser has convinced them that they cannot leave the relationship. Often an abuser will break down the self-esteem of his or her victim over time. This can leave a victim feeling like they are incapable of living a life without the abusive partner. This is one of just many reasons that it is so important for victims of domestic abuse to get help from a mental health professional. In addition to counseling, many people find it helpful to get help from a support group or to discuss their concerns with family and friends they trust.
Gather Your Financial Records and Personal Documents
Sometimes an abusive spouse will retaliate against his or her victim when they try to leave the marriage. If you have not already done so, make sure to gather things like your birth certificate, Social Security card, and other important personal documents. You do not want to take the chance that your spouse will hide or destroy these items in an attempt to stop you from moving on with your life.
Furthermore, gather financial documents like bank statements and tax returns. You will need these to complete a financial affidavit during the divorce. Many abusive spouses will attempt to underreport their income and property so that they will not have to pay their fair share of child support or spousal maintenance. Having proof of your financial circumstances can help streamline the discovery process.
Contact a DuPage County, Illinois Family Law Attorney
For more information about divorcing an abusive spouse, speak with an experienced Wheaton divorce lawyer from Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. Call us at 630-665-7300 and schedule a confidential consultation today.