When considering divorce and leaving a violent partner several precautions should be taken prior to taking legal action. Unsure if domestic violence is an element in your marriage? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline if your partner:
hits, slaps, punches, chokes, kicks, pushes, shoves or spits on you; threatens or scares you with a weapon; forces or coerces you to have sex when you don’t want to; threatens to take away your children; blames you for his/her violent behavior; withholds affection as punishment; takes away your money, house keys or car keys to prevent you from leaving; keeps you from seeking medical attention; says that you deserve to be hit; tries to isolate you from your family and friends, then domestic violence is an element in your case.
The following actions will be helpful to your case if it escalates to a trial (beware, most abusers use the full extent of the judicial process to further abuse their partners).
1) Make certain that every physical incident is documented by filing a police report. Obtain copies of all reports and make sure your copies include the follow-up Detective interviews and comments. Review the report to see if it accurately states the details that you reported. Sometimes reports are typed up at a later date and the officer (handling many cases and reports simultaneously) can accidentally omit very relevant facts that are important to your case. If the report is not accurate or complete, return to the police department to request corrections be made to completely and accurately describe the incident with as much detail as possible.
2) If the incident resulted in a hospital visit, obtain a copy of the hospital report as well. Attending Physicians in the Emergency Room record in-detail statements from the patient and the physical demeanor of the patient. This hospital report will provide additional support and help substantiate the related police report. NEVER leave minor children with a perpetrator when going to the hospital after an altercation. This is unsafe for the children and can have negative repercussions to your side of the case.
3) Have all wounds and/or bruises photographed with a camera that records the date onto the photograph. Make sure family members or a close friend observes the wound and/or bruises to add credibility to your evidence. You may be asked to have them complete an affidavit as a witness to the wounds.
The judicial system heavily scrutinizes violence in the home, especially if it occurs in the presence of minor children.
Keep all evidence in a safe keeping place outside of the home that the abuser does NOT have access to. These reports and evidence will be crucial to your case and abusers will destroy evidence they know can incriminate them.
One additional word of wisdom: when abuse (either physical or emotional) is present in a marriage and the couple seeks counseling, separate counseling for the individuals is always advised, as traditional “couples therapy” is often used by an abuser as an additional vehicle to wound.
Do you have a personal story that you can share regarding these issues? I would love to hear from you.
More financial settlement advice and tips in Transitions Divorce Prep Workbook
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Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my organization, Transitions Resource, LLC. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.