Getting Out Of An Abusive Marriage: The First Steps Before Divorce


If you are in a physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive relationship, you may be wanting a divorce. Of course, this can be difficult with an abuser, because he or she may not want to separate amicably. In the worst-case scenarios, even suggesting divorce could upset your spouse and put you in danger. Here are some tips to help you get out of this difficult situation.

Make Contact with a Lawyer or Other Legal Professional ASAP

It's important for you to talk with a divorce lawyer as soon as you can. If necessary, your lawyer can help set up a protective order so that your spouse is legally required to stay away from you. If you have any children, it's important you discuss custody issues with the lawyer. If you flee your home and take your children without a protective order, this could actually be considered kidnapping.

If you cannot afford a lawyer at the moment, it's important to contact a domestic violence shelter or a court for resources. Resources like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Some lawyers and clerks work pro bono and will help you with the paperwork on very short notice—this is especially important if you have to leave your home immediately and cannot make preparations.

Separate Yourself Slowly if Possible

If you are in no immediate danger, you can slowly transition out of your home. For instance, if you have cash, valuables, heirlooms, etc., be sure to leave these items with a trusted friend or family member. Open a new bank account and start saving money if you have a job. Along with setting aside money, make sure that you have copies of the following

  • W-2 forms/proof of income

  • copies of insurance plans

  • copies of leases or deeds

  • birth certificates

  • any past police reports documenting abuse

These important documents will make it easier for legal proceedings to take place.

Lastly, you should establish a list of people you feel comfortable contacting if you are in danger. Some people establish code words with friends or family members so that they can send help if you get into a bad situation.

Monitor and Document Your Spouse's Behavior

If you have separated and have a court order, you should still stay on your guard. For instance, if you are staying at your current residence, be sure to have the locks changed. Make sure that you check in with friends and family members often, and be sure you change up your routine so that your spouse cannot stalk you. Stalking can come in various forms. Even if your spouse isn't by your home, using social media, texting you, or sending you mail can be considered harassment. If you must meet with your spouse for certain details, do so with your lawyer or with a trusted friend. If you cannot have someone go with you, make sure you are at least in a public place. 

If your spouse is violating any terms in a protective order or he or she is abusing you, it's important that you start documenting these instances. Photos, copies of texts, and diary entries are all examples of documents that can be used to build your case.

While separating yourself from your abuser can be a harrowing path, it's an important step before divorce. Contact a divorce attorney, like those at Catherine Real Family Law, today for more help. 


5 February 2018

Working Closely With Your Attorney

When my husband filed for divorce a few years ago, I knew that I didn't want to endure a legal battle on my own. I interviewed several different attorneys until I found one that I really liked, and then I really gave my case my all. I had long talks with my lawyer about everything from financial problems to the way that we organized our schedule, and she was able to create a rock-solid case from my statements. This website is all about the importance of communicating effectively with your attorney by making the right decisions. Check out these posts about lawyers so that you are better prepared for your next case.