If you or someone you know is in a marriage where domestic violence has been a factor and you are thinking of leaving your partner, having a plan in place can help. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children as you prepare for the final step of ending your marriage. Here are some things to think about in your transition before you file for divorce in Maryland.
- Safety first – Know where you will go on the day you decide to leave. Ideally, it should be a place not known to your spouse. For example, do not go to your best friend or your mother’s house, or anywhere predictable. If you are unable find a safe place, consider going to a shelter or hotel. Have cash and a change of clothes stashed in an outside location for the day you leave.
- Detailed records of abuse – Keep detailed records of the abuse you have experienced, including the date, time, and place of the incident as well as a description of your injuries. This will help you when you are in court for your divorce and the judge is deciding about custody of your children. You should keep a record of every incident – physical or emotional – that happens to you or your children.
- Custody of your children – If you and your children have fled your home because of an abusive spouse, you are strongly advised to go immediately to court to obtain an emergency protective order. This document gives specific instruction for your spouse to stay away and grants you custody of the children. Without this critical step, you may be accused of kidnapping. An emergency custody order is only temporary and long term arrangements are made as part of the divorce proceedings. Every state has different laws, but a history of domestic violence and the safety of the children play a significant role in determining custody.
- Visitation rights – It is unfortunately not unusual for a violent parent to be granted visitation rights. An exception would be if the children have been abused by the parent. If appropriate, you can ask the court to impose visitation requirements, such as no alcohol during visits or appointing a supervisor for the visits. If you feel unsafe dropping off the children yourself, you can arrange for pick up and drop off to be done by third parties. You can also arrange to meet in a neutral, very public place.
Towson Domestic Violence Lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC Represent Victims of Domestic Violence Divorcing in Maryland
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, the caring and experienced Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC are here to help. Call 443-589-0150 for a consultation about your case or contact us online. We have offices in Hunt Valley, Pikesville and Towson, Maryland serving clients in Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County and Howard County, including Towson, Essex, Columbia and Bel Air.