During a divorce, child custody is one of the most important things to consider. While 11% of custody cases are resolved during mediation, some cases are more complicated than others.
In nearly all cases, it’s an ideal situation for both parents to have custody of their children, but spousal or child abuse is a reasonable cause for demanding sole custody.
Here are some tips for making you and your child’s lives much easier during this difficult time.
Make Custody a Priority
While divorcing your abuser is an important step, it is most important to obtain sole custody of your children.
Until sole custody has been rewarded to you, your abusive spouse legally has the right to visit and make legal decisions regarding their child. While you can protect yourself from your abusive spouse, your child cannot.
See a family lawyer as soon as possible to expedite the custodial process, and obtain an emergency custody order. The order will be temporary, and the permanent decision will come in the divorce proceedings. But until then, it’s the best option.
Make a Safety Plan
Leaving your abusive home is the first step to safety, but even after that, there are no guarantees.
Plan to stay with a family member or close friend that you trust, but try to go somewhere that your spouse would not expect you to be. In every case, have a backup plan. There are plenty of shelters that help people who are escaping abusive relationships. When you consult with a family lawyer, it is wise to ask if they have any recommendations.
If you and your spouse have a joint bank account, take as much cash as you can to get by in the meantime. Pack extra clothes as well, and a comforting item for your child, like a toy or blanket.
Hold Onto Your Records
Hang onto any police report, photo, or other form of documentation that illustrates an incident of physical or emotional abuse involving either you or your children. Be sure to keep track of the dates, times, and places that all of these incidents occurred. They will be of great help in court and will help solidify the case against your abusive spouse.
Domestic abuse is a serious matter. It’s grounds for a high level of legal representation beyond divorce and custody cases.
Ken Phillips is a lawyer with a background in both criminal and family law. When you need a place to turn, call Ken Phillips, Attorney at Law.
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