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Filing for Divorce From an Abusive Spouse

You have found yourself somewhere you never thought you would, in an abusive marriage. You have had enough and decided to take the necessary steps to leave your spouse. Kevin Hickey Law Partners does not take these cases lightly. We will assist you in preparing a plan to help you successfully leave your spouse. The plan is designed to help you determine a safe location for you to stay, ways for you to establish your independence and filing for a protective order. An abusive relationship is dangerous and is of the utmost importance to prepare ahead of time by seeking an attorney that is sensitive to the situation and has your safety first and foremost.

The Plan

  • Determine where you will go if you have to leave the home. This might be a relative in another city/state or it could be necessary to stay in a domestic abuse shelter during the process. Call the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-269-4668 for helping find a shelter.
  • Additionally, determine who could lend you money if needed.
  • Begin thinking of ways in which you can increase your independence.
  • Keep the following in a bag with you if possible without raising too many red flags with your abuser: driver’s license, your and your children’s birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports and work permits or work VISAs if necessary.
  • If the situation gets too out of hand, before you have the opportunity to leave on your own, have packed bag ready and keep it somewhere besides your home. Items that should be in your bag are: cash, copies of important documents (tax returns, insurance, vaccination records, pay stubs), an extra set of keys, extra prescription medicine, pictures of you, your children and your abuser, clothing.
  • Find a trusted person that knows the situation and can contact the police on your behalf if necessary. Ideally, this is a neighbor that could potentially hear a fight ensue.
  • Come up with a code word that lets your children, family and/or neighbors know you need them to contact the police.

Filing a Protective Order

You are allowed to file a Petition with the Circuit Clerk for an Order of Protection at no charge if you have standing. Standing means that you are a family or household member. This is defined as spouses, former spouses, parents and children, blood relatives within the fourth degree, children residing in the household, past or present persons that have resided together, persons who have had a child in common, and persons who are or have been in a dating relationship together.  The Petition should include alleged incidents of domestic violence.

Once the Petition is filed, the judge will review it. Then, he or she will enter a temporary order of protection and set a final hearing date, or the judge can enter an order setting a final hearing date. The order may also address the issue of custody and could order the removal of the abuser from the home.

The abuser will be served with the order for hearing. At the hearing, the court will decide whether to enter a final order. You must attend the hearing and present evidence of the domestic violence that you suffered.

If the Order of Protection is executed, it will order the abuser to stay away from your residence, school, place of business, and possibly your children’s school. If he or she violates the Order, the abuser will be arrested and possibly charged with a misdemeanor or felony for a second offense.

Remember, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over someone. Abusive behavior is physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing someone to fear that those things are imminent. If someone has not actually harmed you yet, but makes you feel afraid that you are going to be assaulted, that too could be domestic violence. Domestic violence does not have a prejudice it affects all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Once the necessary steps are in place to maintain your safety, we will assist you in successfully filing for divorce and custody of the children. Allow Kevin Hickey Law Partners to assist you during this very difficult and dangerous time. You need an attorney that is sensitive to your needs.