Leaving a spouse that regularly hits or punches you is even harder than leaving someone you do not love anymore and want to divorce. When you decide that you want to leave your abusive spouse, the very first thing you should do is find a shelter for battered women. (If you are a battered husband, you may have to be more resourceful, but there are helpful shelters and places to go.) The next step, when you are ready, is to consult a divorce attorney. Here is what you should bring to the table when you meet with a divorce attorney for the first time.
Proof of the Abuse
You have to have documentation of long-standing abuse. This is a very sad situation, since a lot of abused spouses have not gone to a hospital when they were struck, choked, or knocked unconscious. They have not visited a doctor for any account, and that leaves many victims feeling guilty and abandoned by the justice system because the courts will not entertain stories of abuse without proof. Even if all you have are two records where you had to get medical attention for a broken bone or a swollen black eye, that proof is something. Bring whatever you do have to the table to show what has been happening to you.
Help from the Domestic Abuse Shelter
Advocates of domestic abuse can also help you. These advocates fully understand that the court system does not accept word-of-mouth statements regarding domestic abuse, despite going through years of abuse. They can attest to the fact that many domestic abuse victims refrain from speaking out because they do not want their children to be without the other parent, or that they themselves do not want to feel like failures for leaving the marriage, despite the fact that they are being injured repeatedly. Sometimes some divorce attorneys donate divorce attorney services to domestic abuse shelters because they know that their services can really help the victims of abuse.
If Children Are Involved, Work Quickly
Many times the victims of domestic abuse have to flee to save themselves. They cannot take their children with because they have to escape to protect their own lives. If you have children and those children are still living with the batterer, you need to work quickly with your lawyer to get the children away from your soon-to-be-ex spouse. Oftentimes, batterers will turn their rage on the next available victim when their main target leaves. You do not want that to be any of your children. Your lawyer can help.