If you are in an abusive relationship and have children, it is very important to distance yourself and them from your abusive partner. Distancing yourself through divorce may very well be your best option. Even though the thought may have crossed your mind several times, it is likely time to take action. Get the courage to file for divorce, but before you do, take these steps to protect your kids and yourself:
1. Report Abuse to the Police and Maintain Records
If your partner is violent, keep records of every incident involving him (or her) stored in a secret place. Abuse can be in the form of physical or emotional, so either record or take pictures to exhibit in court. Also, write down the time, date, and place with the description of the altercation between you and your partner. The records will come in handy when you are fighting for custody of your kids, especially if you did not previously report such incidents to the police. Do not hesitate to call the police if you have been physically abused!
2. Have a Safe Residence to Go To And Then File For a Restraining Order
After you have filed for divorce, you need a place where you can take your kids at least temporarily until you can take further legal action. Consider filing a restraining order to protect you and your children, which can prevent your partner from going to your home and the children’s schools. In a restraining order, you can request exclusive use, possession and control of the marital residence, with a kick-out order requiring your partner to vacate the marital residence. Such orders are then enforceable by the police and the court.
3. Seek Sole Custody of Your Children Under the Restraining Order
If your partner becomes too abusive towards you or your kids, don’t wait to file for custody; do it immediately under the request for a restraining order. The court can grant you with such restraining orders that can give you custody of your kids and orders your partner to stay away at the same time.
4. Seek Control of Visitation Rights
If your partner has not abused the kids, he/she may be permitted to see them. However, if you are still concerned, you can ask the judge for supervised visits if they are appropriate under the circumstances of your case. If you don’t want the kids to see their mom/dad at their residence, you can ask them to agree to meet them in public such as a restaurant, park, or even the police station.
5. Get Legal Assistance
People struggling with emotional and physical abuse need to get out of the relationship fast. Don’t wait to get legal help. Seek legal assistance at the first signs of abuse. The safety of your child is what’s important here. Consult a divorce firm to help you. If you don’t have enough money, you can always go to a shelter. The shelter will find you the legal help you need.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.