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How Do I Divorce My Abusive Spouse?

restraining order
There is nothing easy about ending a marriage, but when one spouse in the partnership is abusive, the process become even more difficult. Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, it’s a very real concern, so safety is paramount as someone walks through the already fraught process of leaving a marriage. Thankfully, there are some tips and guidelines that can help an individual leave an unsafe or unhealthy environment.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233, TTY 800-787-3224) abuse can be defined as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner.” The hotline also notes that abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Intimate partner violence impacts more than 12 million people each year in the United States.

If you have time and can do so safely, plan an escape. That can include arranging for finances by creating a separate bank account or getting a credit card in your own name for emergencies. Prepaid credit cards can be a good option. In North Carolina, when you leave an abusive situation, police are available to accompany you to your home to retrieve food, medicine, clothing and necessary personal property if you feel unsafe.

This is probably the right time to begin speaking to a lawyer who is experienced with the statutes governing domestic violence. An experienced lawyer will always be able to answer questions, however, and help guide you through what can be a painful and difficult process.

Seeking safety through protective orders

Victims of domestic violence in North Carolina can seek protection through a domestic violence protective order (DVPO).This can be filed against someone the victim has had a personal relationship with, such as a spouse, ex-spouse or domestic partner. The DVPO provisions may include:

  • Directing the abuser to refrain from abusive acts
  • Granting one party possession of the residence or household and excluding the other
  • Requiring the abuser to provide suitable alternative housing for themselves and children
  • Awarding temporary custody and establishing visitation rights
  • Ordering child and spousal support
  • Any additional requirements the court deems necessary to protect the victim and children

It’s important to know that you’re not alone when you decide to divorce, especially if you’re escaping from an abusive situation. There are resources to help you make what could be the most important decision of your life. The Carolina Law Group is ready to help you and your children seek the protection you need. Call our firm at 252-672-2059 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our New Bern, Havelock or Morehead City office.

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