When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse, Take Precautions to Stay Safe

Spouses who are victims of domestic violence – including physical violence and emotional abuse – need to consider filing for divorce as soon as possible to get out of the dangerous living situation. However, the mere act of considering a divorce can set off the already unstable spouse and could result in more violence. In order to stay as safe as possible while divorcing, some extra precautions should be taken.

When divorcing an abusive spouse, you should:

  • Plan ahead: It is recommended that you start planning well ahead for your divorce without bringing it up to your spouse. Get copies of divorce paperwork and important financial statements that will be pertinent in the divorce on your own time. If any organizations notify all interested parties when copies are requested, you may want to inform them that you are a victim of domestic abuse; they may accommodate you by not notifying your spouse. While at your bank getting copies, ask about opening your own account in secret. Any of these copies should be stored elsewhere so your spouse cannot find them.
  • Retain an experienced lawyer: When divorcing an abusive spouse, you should work with a divorce attorney that has experience and knowledge about domestic violence cases. They will know how to handle the sensitive and potentially-dangerous situation. Let them know what is going on and what you have prepared so far. Remember to try to talk to them only when you are alone.
  • Filing and leaving: You may want to leave your spouse on the same day you file for divorce. Arrange ahead of time to find a safe place to stay and tell as few people as possible. Tell your attorney and trusted family members the day and time you intend to leave and check in with them once it is done. Ask your family lawyer about using a third-party to deliver the divorce paperwork to your spouse.

Additional reminders:

  1. When you leave, take your children with you if you believe they are also in danger.
  2. When in immediate danger, notify the police and ask them to take you to a domestic abuse shelter.
  3. Never do anything that jeopardizes your safety.

Do you need assistance filing for divorce but are in an abusive marriage? I, Westlake Village divorce Attorney Jeffrey Graff, want to help you. I have more than 30 years of legal experience and know just how serious and precarious your situation may be. When I take such cases, I act quickly, efficiently, and carefully, always doing what I can to ensure my client’s safety.

Talk about your case with me when you can do so safely. Call 805.633.4999 or use an online contact form, making certain to note that it is urgent.

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