Putting an end to abuse and mistreatment within a marriage is not easy at all as it can give rise to a new round of abuse and violence when the other spouse realizes that their power is being taken away from them. In general, women who are frequently abused are more fearful of asking for a divorce rather than women who have not been abused. Sure, it can happen the other way round, and ofcourse there are now same-sex partnerships, however more often than not, it is the woman in a heterosexual marriage who is subject to domestic abuse.
First steps to ending an abusive marriage
The main reason why women are afraid to approach their abusive husbands for divorce is that they fear the reaction that may come once their spouse knows that they want out of marriage. Note that it has also been shown that if a woman tolerates abuse once, it becomes a routine. If in the first instance, she calls the police, the man rarely tries it again as he realizes that it is not acceptable behavior. Not that you ever want to be with a violent partner, but if you are in a marriage and they show signs of violence, stamp it out immediately.
Ending an abusive marriage with divorce is the only solution if you exist in a relationship where you are target of violence, ill-treatment and cruelty. It’s not even necessary that the ill-treatment or abuse comes in form of blows or physical torture, it can be mental or psychological torment if you are constantly harassed, insulted or threatened in any way, financial abuse if monies are involved and ofcourse, sexual abuse.
The first step to ending an abusive marriage with divorce is to build up your confidence — women who are abused often feel that they are good for nothing and can do nothing. This is wrong… you need to understand that no matter what your partner says or makes you believe, you are worth a lot!
How does abuse effect a divorce?
The answer is not simple; it’s yes and know. Before we move on here are a few points to note:
- There is a very good chance your divorce will be filed as “no fault”. This is because all states now offer “no fault” divorces and many states only offer “no fault” divorces. Don’t be alarmed. Even though the language may sound unfair, this is normal.
- An abusive relationship generally does not have any effect on the legal proceeding of filing for divorce.
- The abuse will come into play when it comes to court decisions on settling financial matters such as alimony and child support, division of assets such as property, and child custody.
That being said, there are several things that can be done to protect you such as using the civil courts and the filing of criminal charges against your spouse. These can provide you with temporary child custody, restraining orders and give you access to the family home. They also provide evidence for when your divorce case potentially goes to court.
How to divorce an abusive marriage
Here are some high-level key points on what you can do if you want to get out of an abusive and destructive marriage:
- Gather your confidence and assure yourself that you can actually get rid of this relationship and that the divorce laws and supporting professionals are here to help you. You’ve made a big and brave decision, now it’s time to follow thought.
- Approach a marriage counselor or an attorney who can explain your rights regarding divorce, how you can get a divorce and the next best steps (such as civil or criminal proceedings). The rules for divorce in each state differ and your lawyer will explain the laws better than anyone else. It’s useful to do some reading yourself first, so you have a basic understanding of what the key terms are and areas of the law that may be different in your State, however if you are in danger it’s more important to get out FAST. If you have time and the situation permits, always speak to a professional first – they can advise on the best way for you to move forward.
- Collect all your paperwork and important items such as certificates, finance and legal documents, identification, social security, payslips and prepare your belongings— you may not get a chance to collect them (or want to!) once you leave your marital home. If you can get your important and valuable belongings out (perhaps collected by a friend), it may save you a lot of stress in the thought of having to return. If you have any physical evidence of abuse, be sure to take that with you too.
- Have a plan for the children. If you have kids, you will need to make sure that they are aware of the on-going situation between their parents. It is important for their mental peace and confidence that they know and support your decision. Depending on the age of your children and/or the extent of the abuse, you may need to take them with you.
- Ask your family or a good friend to support you by collecting your belongings or accompanying you to your lawyer/counselor.
- Request your attorney to file the divorce case. Depending on the level of abuse and urgency, you may ask them if it is possible to file for an “Emergency Divorce” which can be processed faster in some States. Make sure that you have all your papers and documents handy so that everything proceeds quickly.
Be prepared to undergo a trial as, in this situation, your partner might not cooperate in getting you the divorce you seek. Also be prepared as they might try to harass or browbeat you into revoking the case with sweet words of “I love you”…or threats.
Now is when that confidence needs to kick in. You have done the difficult part of making the decision and filing for divorce. Now it’s time to live your own life. Don’t back down.