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Michigan Family Law Blog

Monday, July 29, 2019

Domestic Violence and Divorce - How You Can Protect Yourself

Leaving an abusive relationship can be one of the best decisions you can make. However, you need to protect yourself before, during, and after the divorce from domestic violence. Telling an abusive spouse that you want a divorce could make the situation more dangerous. A Michigan divorce lawyer can help you take steps to protect yourself if you are divorcing an abusive spouse.

Tips for Remaining Safe When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Some steps that you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Work with your attorney to obtain a restraining order preventing your spouse from contacting you or coming near you, your home, or your place of employment.
  • Establish a code word with family, friends, and co-workers to let them know if you are in danger and need help.
  • Protect financial documents and accounts before you tell your spouse you are leaving. Make copies of all financial records, take originals copies of personal documents (birth certificates, Social Security card, etc.), and open an account and a credit card in your name only.
  • Pack a go-bag so that you are ready to leave immediately if you need to get away quickly from an abusive spouse.
  • Arrange for a safe place for you and your children to go before you tell your spouse that you want a divorce.
  • Set up a post office box before you meet with your divorce attorney to use for all correspondence.
  • If you are staying at home, immediately change all locks and consider installing an alarm system.
  • Avoid staying alone whenever possible.
  • Always have an escape plan if your spouse confronts you.
  • Change the passwords for all your accounts, including email, social media accounts, work-related accounts, and financial accounts.
  • Do not go to court alone. Always have someone with you when you go to court. When you get to the courthouse, wait for your attorney as close to the court officer’s station as possible.

If you fear for your safety, call the police or leave immediately. Your attorney can help you seek possession of your home after you are safe. A domestic violence advocate can also help you with safety measures. An advocate can assess the situation and give you advice regarding additional steps you may need to take to protect yourself.

Spousal Abuse Takes Many Forms

Most people immediately think about physical abuse when they hear about domestic violence. However, spousal abuse can take many forms. All forms of domestic violence can be devastating and harmful.

Domestic violence includes:

  • Physical abuse includes any physical contact that inflicts physical pain and injuries.
  • Economic abuse occurs when a spouse controls all the finances to force the other spouse to be completely dependent on the spouse.
  • Emotional abuse may include humiliation, manipulation, blackmail, verbal abuse, and over-controlling.
  • Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact by a spouse.
  • Psychological abuse occurs when a spouse attempts to manipulate or brainwash the other spouse to act in a certain way.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse or violence, there is help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also find resources and help near you on the Michigan.gov website.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney to Discuss Your Options

You do not need to stay in an abusive relationship. A Michigan divorce attorney can help you set up a plan to leave your marriage safely. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding to discuss your options. 


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