Navigating divorce and domestic violence – Insights from lawyers

Going through a divorce is emotionally challenging under any circumstances. When domestic violence is involved, the stakes become much higher and the process significantly more complex. As family and divorce lawyers, we have seen how abusive relationships escalate during separation, putting victims at heightened risk. We have also witnessed the legal complexities that arise when there are allegations of abuse.

Safety planning is paramount. The period during and after separation is often the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence. Before proceeding with divorce, work closely with professionals to safety plan for yourself and any children. This may involve relocating, installing security systems, changing routines, and identifying safe places to go in emergencies. A safety plan will help mitigate risks.

Document evidence of abuse. Whether physical, emotional, financial, or other, evidence of domestic violence will be crucial in legal proceedings. Keep a detailed log of incidents, with dates, times, locations, witnesses if any, and other relevant details. Photograph injuries or property damage. Save threatening texts, emails, and voicemails. Consult lawyers experienced with domestic violence cases. Divorce with an abusive partner requires specialized legal experience. Interview several family law attorneys with expertise in domestic violence to find one you are comfortable with. Inquire about their experience handling similar cases. An attorney who has experience in dealing with abusive relationships will be able to provide the best advice.

Be prepared for manipulation and retaliation. Abusers often escalate their behavior when victims assert independence. They may try manipulating legal proceedings, threatening harm, or making false accusations. A lawyer experienced with such tactics helps you brace for them. Documenting abuse also makes it more difficult for the abuser to falsely claim victimhood. Advocate for supervised visitation. Using custody arrangements to control or harm children can be an abuser’s strategy to further harm victims. It is generally advisable to request supervised visitation given the risks. An experienced lawyer advocates for supervision based on evidence of domestic violence. It helps protect the children from further exposure to toxicity.

Seek a restraining order. Restraining orders prevent abusers from contacting or approaching victims. Your top divorce lawyers in scarborough advise if strong enough evidence of domestic violence exists to petition for an order. If granted, violating the restraining order would subject the abuser to criminal charges, providing further protection. Request police escorts if needed. When picking up personal belongings from a shared home, asking police to escort you eliminates the risks of confrontation with the abuser. Your lawyer or domestic violence advocate help arrange police escorts for your safety during necessary interactions.

Engage a financial planner. Work with an accountant or financial planner to untangle joint assets and gain financial independence. With expert help, you mitigate financial abuse. Lean on your support system. Make use of friends, family, domestic violence advocates, and support groups to combat isolation. No one should navigate divorce with an abuser alone. A strong support system helps mitigate emotional turmoil. While navigating divorce under normal circumstances takes time, dissolving marriage from an abusive partner requires additional precautions and resources.

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