Dissolving an established domestic partnership is a difficult process even in the best of circumstances, but when domestic violence has been a part of the picture, the stress levels on the part of the person divorcing an abusive spouse can skyrocket — especially since initiating divorce proceedings often escalates the abusive behavior. It’s essential that those in this situation enlist the services of a domestic violence divorce attorney in Utah in order to get completely free and clear of the abuser.
Following are five things that you need to know if you’ve got questions about domestic violence and divorce.
1. Contact the Authorities About Abuse and Threats
Contacting law enforcement authorities not only helps keep you and your children safe from the abuser, filing a domestic violence complaint carries significant weight with the courts in matters such as child custody.
2. Ask the Court to Order a Psychological Evaluation for the Abuser
Having documentation from local law enforcement makes it more likely that the court agree to require the abuser to have a psychological evaluation. This may help identify root causes of the abuse and perhaps even be the catalyst for positive change. For instance, if substance abuse is a part of the picture, this may be the wakeup call that your soon-to-be ex-spouse needs to get his life back on track, and it might even save your marriage. Even if this doesn’t happen, it may nonetheless be what’s needed to stop the divorce abuse and other negative behavior. After all, if children are involved, your ex will probably continue to be a part of their lives even after the divorce is final.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Those who wonder what to do when domestic violence occurs are often reluctant to speak up about what they’re going through or search for community resources. However, reaching out to others is the first step toward getting the help that you need. Don’t be afraid to let family and friends know about the situation and to seek assistance from church and community organizations designed to provide support for those in your situation.
4. Get Individual Counseling
Many of those headed for divorce court undergo couples counseling, often at the direction of the court, but private counseling sessions are recommended prior to sessions involving both parties, particularly if domestic abuse is in the picture. This provides you with a safe space in which to talk about the abuse where you won’t be blamed by the abuser or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable.
5. Request a Custody Evaluation
If minor children are involved, one of the most important steps to take in a domestic violence divorce situation is to petition the court for a child custody evaluation if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse aren’t on the same page concerning custody and visitation arrangements. In situations where domestic violence has occurred, this certainly needs to be considered by the court when determining child custody arrangements.
Salt Lake County and Utah County Divorce Attorney Eric M. Swinyard can Help
Contacting an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Utah can help reduce the stress of navigating the tricky waters of divorce in situations where domestic violence is a factor. We’ll provide you with a 30-minute consultation designed to determine how we can best help you get out of a bad relationship and continue moving on to a far better way of life. Give us a call today at (801) 515-4133.