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Divorce and Domestic Violence: Tips for Proceeding

Specialized organizations like the National Coalition against Domestic Violence and law enforcement are well-suited to dealing with domestic violence issues.  But in most cases, there are some general considerations of which a person in a violent situation can take account.  Here are some things to keep in mind if you are in a violent situation or are preparing to separate from a violent partner.

Safety First

Obviously, the first priority to handling a domestic violence situation is to secure the health and safety of the victim (and any children involved).  Emergency services, law enforcement, and other agencies can help with this.  Victims in danger should seek protection in a safe location (ideally a location of which the abuser either is not aware or will not think to look).  Our firm takes physical safety seriously as a primary consideration in extricating victims of abuse from domestic violence.  When it comes to attempting to remove yourself from an abusive situation, practice safety first.

Keep Records

As long as you continue to cohabitate with an abusive partner, attempt to keep records of each incident of abuse (its time, place, date, and injuries, etc.), unless doing so would endanger you.  Later, when it is time to receive legal protection from a judge, these records will be invaluable in making your case and helping the judge to understand precisely what happened and when.  Remember, sometime in the future, a judge will be considering whether or how to grant custody of your children.  Judges will consider a history of violence or abuse in their determination, and specific records help them do so.

Pursue Legal Custody Immediately

Even abusers start out with parental rights over their children, so you will need to have a court curtail, eliminate, or readjust these rights for your and your children’s safety.  The quickest way to begin this process is to file for an emergency custody or protective order, which will not only require the abuser to stay away but will also eliminate any allegations of parental kidnapping.  The process is not overly complicated, and the help of an attorney can speed things up as well.  The idea is to secure the safety of victims and children immediately, so that the victim is able to arrange a long-term plan for child custody and see a judge to order it.  Judges in the state of Florida make decisions regarding custody on the basis of the best interests of the child, and histories of domestic violence or abuse can significantly sway a judge towards granting primary or even exclusive custody to a victim over his or her abuser.

Get Some Help

Family law attorneys are not just divorce lawyers.  While not every law firm employs attorneys with specific experience in handling domestic violence cases, at Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, skilled divorce and family law attorneys have been advocating for and empowering victims of domestic abuse for more than fifty years combined, and can help with restraining orders and injunctions. Call 561-391-9943 for a consultation today.

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