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Precautions When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Domestic violence intrudes on the lives of approximately 4 million people each year, 95 percent of whom are women. Children, other relatives, friends, and employers suffer the ripple effects as well.

Protect your and your children's lives and well-being when the threat of violence and abuse looms by calling the police if necessary. Then immediately contact a domestic violence relief agency for direction to a safe shelter.

If divorce is an option you want to pursue, be aware that domestic violence changes the entire equation. In divorce proceedings devoid of violence, just up and leaving with the children in tow without what the court considers a good reason may negatively impact alimony payments and the ability to return to the house until property is divided by the court.

When domestic violence is in play, however, safety is an overwhelming objective. Leave for a safe haven; focus on legal matters when you are safely situated. A court order may be obtained on the fast track for measurements such as keeping possession of your home and car, and temporary custody of the children. It might also require your spouse to stay away from you and the kids, with violation of the order resulting in arrest.

Do not agree to mediation in place of a court trial, mediation is for couples who have a somewhat amicable relationship. In cases of domestic violence, mediation may open the door to further intimidation and giving up what you're entitled to.

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