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"Why don't you just leave?" It's a question asked too often of domestic violence victims, but the truth is, it's not easy to simply escape. In addition to the emotional factors of leaving a relationship, there are the all-too-practical factors to consider.
- Financial abuse occurs in 98 percent of abusive relationships.
- Abusers will often keep necessary documents, like driver's licenses and social security cards.
- Lack of shelter or a place to go.
- Leaving an abusive marriage is dangerous — women in abusive relationships are at a higher risk of murder or having their loved ones killed by their abuser.
However, you can escape a violent relationship. To help you take those first steps, our divorce lawyer in Raleigh is sharing the steps to leave an abusive marriage.
Speak to a Divorce Lawyer
The first thing you should do when planning on leaving an abusive marriage is to understand your options and get an ally on your side. Working with a divorce attorney with experience in domestic violence can help you understand your options and improve your likelihood of a favorable divorce settlement, including child custody, child support, and distribution of property. Most importantly, a divorce lawyer will help you file a protective order against your spouse if you are in danger.
Understanding Protective Orders in Abusive Relationships
If your partner is physically abusive to you or your child, threatens bodily injury, or has caused substantial emotional distress, you can obtain a 50B protective order. This is North Carolina's restraining order specifically to protect victims from someone with whom they have a personal relationship. This includes current or former spouses as well as current or former romantic partners.
To file a protective order, the judge reviews the paperwork you filed, and if approved, the Sheriff will serve the restraining order. Because this is a temporary measure, you and your spouse will have to return to court within 10 days and at this time, you can ask the judge to keep the protective order in place for up to one year.
Having an attorney to file the paperwork and represent you during your hearing can improve the success of your case as well as ensure no mistakes or errors will void the order.
Six Steps to Take Before Leaving an Abusive Marriage
Whether you're a victim of emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical abuse, you deserve a safe, healthy life free of any kind of violence. To safely leave your abusive marriage and reduce your risk of additional violence, it's essential to prepare as best you can.
1. Acquire a Cell Phone
Your spouse may have a tracker placed on your phone, reads your texts, or monitors your calls on your current phone. Purchase a pre-paid cell phone that you can use without fear of being traced or monitored, and avoid giving the number to anyone that may give the number to your spouse.
2. Secure a Place to Go
First, consider your options for where you can stay that are safe and secure. You may choose to live in your current home if you have a protective order against your partner, but many people also feel safer leaving the environment.
- Stay with a trusted friend
- Ask family members who you trust
- Rent an apartment if you're financially able
- Contact a local domestic violence shelter
Regardless of which option is best, keep the address and your location secret from your spouse and anyone who you feel may tell them.
3. Secure Important Documents
You'll need identification and important paperwork in order to get a job, rent an apartment, or stay in a shelter, as well as protect your assets in a divorce. Gather the following, and keep them in a safe place, like a safety deposit box, the trunk of your car, or at a trusted friend's house.
- Driver's license
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
- Bank statements
- Credit cards
- Copies of any legal paperwork, including a restraining order
- Health insurance cards
4. Pack a Bag for You and Your Children
When you're ready to go, you may need to move quickly, and that means you'll want to have a bag that's already packed and ready. Again, keep this in a place your partner won't see it or know it's there, such as in the trunk of your car or stored at a friend's house. Pack a few changes of clothing and necessary toiletries and prescriptions for yourself as well as any necessary items and clothing for your children.
5. Rent a Post Office Box
Fill out a change of address card to have your mail forwarded to your post office box, rather than your new address.
6. Talk to Trusted People
If you are concerned your spouse may show up at your work or your children's school, it's important to let people in these settings know what's going on, and also provide copies of any restraining orders if you have them.
- School principal and teachers
- Your boss or HR department
- Get emotional support from friends and loved ones.
Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Attorney in Raleigh Today
If you are ready to leave an abusive marriage, we can provide the legal support and advocacy you need. From filing a restraining order on your behalf to protecting your rights and assets in the divorce, we're dedicated to helping you secure a safe future with financial security and confidence, free of abuse and violence. To learn more about how we can help you or to schedule a consultation, call (919) 301-8843 or complete the form below to get started.