In divorce cases involving domestic violence, a victim’s rights may not be clear. When the end of a marriage is a violent one, it’s best to find a divorce lawyer who focuses on helping victims of domestic violence. The lawyer’s knowledge and skill will help a victim stay safe and get what they deserve in the divorce settlement. Like most states, New York has protocols on handling divorces with domestic violence; read more about them below.
Establishment of a Protective Order
With a divorce lawyer, a victim will present information to the court that proves their spouse presents a threat. Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse; it includes sexual and emotional abuse as well. Discuss with an attorney some of the things that happened during the marriage, and take prompt action so there’s something to show the court during the protective order petition. When a protective order is granted, the victim gets to stay in the marital home, they get temporary child custody, and the abuser cannot contact them.
Mediation Isn’t the Best Option in a Domestic Violence Divorce
Mediation is for spouses who can come to an amicable agreement about divorce and settlement. An abuser may want mediation instead of a court case because it costs less, and it gives them the chance to bully the other spouse into giving up part of their settlement. Most attorneys will advise clients in domestic violence divorces not to go through mediation because of the potential for further abuse. It’s particularly important to go through the courts when addressing child custody issues.
Child Custody in Domestic Violence Divorces
In most instances, a judge will give full child custody to the domestic violence victim. There must be sufficient evidence that the abuser may harm the victim or the children during a pickup or drop-off. While the other spouse may never have abused the children, the threat of imminent harm to the victim might be enough to convince the judge to award them full custody.
Protection Before, During, and After the Divorce
During a domestic violence divorce, it’s crucial not to downplay the other spouse’s actions or their anger. Many times, a spouse who was never abusive before may become violent out of frustration and rage. When a spouse has shown that they’re capable of causing harm, a victim must protect themselves. Below are a few protective tips for victims.
- Find shelter. If a victim fears for their safety when they leave the marriage, or if things become worse during divorce proceedings, they should find a domestic violence shelter and not tell the other spouse where they’re going. In New York, there are numerous domestic violence shelters that protect victims by giving them a secluded, safe place to stay.
- Get a restraining order. Petition the court for an order that requires the other spouse to stay a certain distance away. These orders are crucial as they help build a case for divorce on the grounds of domestic violence.
Handling Financial Issues
Many victims don’t have the money to pay an attorney because the abusive spouse controlled the household finances. However, they shouldn’t be discouraged and feel that they’re stuck in an abusive marriage. Many divorce attorneys will help victims of domestic violence by representing them pro bono (free of charge) or at a greatly reduced rate.
It’s Not Necessary to Stay in an Abusive Relationship
A domestic violence victim may feel stuck in their marriage because they fear for their life and their spouse has drained them of all their motivation to leave. It’s important not to give up, though. There is life after divorce, and the abuse does not have to go on. Victims should protect themselves and their children by getting out of the situation as safely and as quickly as possible.
Get Legal Help Today
Divorces are stressful even under the best of circumstances, but they become much more complicated and dangerous when domestic violence is involved. While many victims stay in abusive marriages because they’re afraid or they feel like they can’t afford to leave, there’s help available. After getting out of the situation and moving into a shelter or safe house, a victim should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Visit the firm’s site for more details or call today to schedule a consultation with a New York domestic violence and divorce attorney.