How to Divorce an Abusive Spouse
Spousal abuse and domestic violence can take many forms, and can be difficult for the victim to extract themselves from the situation. People fear that filing for a divorce will only antagonize the abuser, and push them to committing further acts of abuse. However, New Jersey law provides many protections for victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Not only can you file for divorce on grounds of domestic violence, but you can also quickly obtain a temporary restraining order, and with sufficient evidence and an experienced Morris County domestic violence attorney, can then obtain a final restraining order against the abuser, and prevent them from making contact with you, potentially your children, and extended friends and family, and your employer.
Domestic Violence Morris County Attorneys
Domestic Violence can take many forms, and the law recognizes that abuse can be physical, emotional, and even financial. According to the 1990 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), the following actions are all considered acts of domestic violence:
- Terroristic Threats
- Criminal Restraint
- False Imprisonment
- Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
Keep in mind that the person committing these acts does not necessarily need to be a spouse, they can be a family member, former boyfriend or girlfriend, or a member of your household. Domestic Violence is a criminal offense, and is taken extremely seriously by New Jersey courts in terms of taking measures to protect victims, and punish perpetrators. If you believe you are suffering from domestic violence, you should immediately contact a Morris County domestic violence attorney in order to begin taking the steps necessary to protecting your physical, emotional, and financial health and safety.
Divorcing an Abusive or Violent Spouse
Many victims of domestic violence fear that by filing for a divorce, they risk making their situation worse, either for themselves or their children. Fortunately, there are a number of resources, options, and sound advice available for individuals seeking to divorce an abusive spouse.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has several very useful recommendations for this situation. If you have the time to plan ahead, they recommend that you:
- Make a list of people you can contact for support
- Memorize phone numbers of people and places you can call in the event of an emergency
- Establish a code word with your support network alerting them that you need help without alerting your abuser
Beyond preparing for your safety, you may also wish to prepare for your divorce financially by gathering important documents such as:
- Social security cards and birth certificates
- Copies of deeds, leases, and insurance policies
- Proof of income for both parties such as pay stubs or W-2’s
- Copies of bank and credit card statements
- And any documentation which proves past abusive such as photos, police reports, and medical records
With your safety network and important financial information necessary during the divorce process in place, you are now prepared to contact a Morris County divorce attorney, and begin the divorce process. You may wish to discuss filing for divorce on grounds of fault (in this case physical or mental cruelty). Although New Jersey judges do not consider fault when dividing property, it will be considered when determining alimony, so an abusive spouse will most likely be expected to pay more alimony than they would had the divorce been filed as a no-fault divorce.
When filing for a divorce against an abusive spouse, you may also wish to seek a restraining order against the abusive party in order to further protect yourself from future acts of violence.
Restraining Order Attorneys Morris County, NJ
New Jersey law allows for victims of abuse to file and obtain a temporary restraining order against the abuser, and prevent the abuser from contacting them or their children, and potentially force the abuser to leave the marital home. Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) are granted with nothing more than allegations of abuse, you and your Morris County restraining order will not have to present hard evidence of abuse until the Final Restraining Order hearing. This can allow you to obtain immediate and guaranteed relief from your abuser without worrying about the court’s ultimate decision.
Seeking the protection of a TRO is critical for victims of abuse during the divorce process, and should your abuser violate the TRO, will allow you to take further legal action and help the ultimate divorce settlement go in your favor. Restraining Orders can provide a variety of protections, so it is important that when obtaining one, you are honest with your Morris County restraining order and the judge in order to obtain the exact protections necessary in your case.
Contact a Morris County Domestic Violence and Divorce Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Mendham, Parsippany, Chatham, Randolph, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area to secure restraining orders against abusers, and obtain favorable and just divorce settlements.
By practicing exclusively family and divorce law, our attorneys are able to provide highly experienced, knowledgable, and compassionate legal counsel in all family law matters, including domestic violence and divorce issues such as child custody, child support, division of assets, and spousal support.
To speak with one of attorneys today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your restraining order, domestic violence, or divorce needs, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at 973-828-0829.