stop sign that says "stop violence"

Getting a Divorce From an Abusive Spouse

Domestic violence is a serious matter and we don’t take it lightly at Kevin Hickey Law Partners. Fortunately, neither does Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. She has made it a priority to raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence. One way the Attorney General’s office is helping with domestic violence is by providing Laura’s Card to all 75 county sheriff’s offices, hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state, service providers and victims. These cards include victim’s rights, crisis lines, and contacts for shelters. This distribution makes Arkansas the first state to adopt a statewide victims’ rights card. Laura’s cards were created after domestic abuse survivor, Laura Webb, was purposely run over by her husband in his truck. Twice. After surviving and enduring multiple surgeries and months of intense recovery, she has permanent disabilities. A jury found her husband guilty of third-degree domestic battery, but he served just three months in jail. To make matters worse and to continue to mentally torment and control Laura, he sued her for alimony. Laura desperately reached out to her state legislators to advocate for change. As a result, Laura’s Cards were created to help victims know their rights and have access to important phone numbers and resources. There have been many other positive outcomes because of Laura Webb and state legislators.

Laura’s story is all too familiar since mental abuse after the divorce continues. A study conducted by the University of Arizona proved that abuse almost always continues after divorce. The study found that 98 percent of individuals in the study noted some form of psychological abuse or coercive control after divorce. The project also studied ways that the legal process creates stress for victims and clients focusing primarily on psychological abuse, coercive control, physical violence, sexual assault, sexual intimidation and threats of and escalated physical violence. They proved that it is almost always impossible for someone to simply walk away for an abusive partner and it will end. “Even when the marriage relationship is over there remains serious conflict and violence between many couples.” In fact, violence typically accelerates within the first three to 12 months after separation. How can you protect yourself from continuous victimization from an abusive partner?

If you are in an abusive relationship, take all steps necessary to protect your safety and the safety of your children. After you are safe, focus on your legal issues. Hire an attorney that is experienced in family law. I will help my clients file a protective order. If the court finds that domestic violence was committed, it will order any relief deemed necessary to protect you. The relief can be anything from restraining the abuser, ordering him or her to cease and desist any type of contact with the victim, and may order the abuser to move out of the home and provide temporary financial support for any minor children or a spouse. A protective order can be for a period of 90 days or a maximum of 10 years. If the protective order is violated, it is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of one year in jail.

I understand that simply walking away from an abusive spouse is difficult to carry out. Going against physically and emotionally abusive spouses require planning, preparation, and good legal representation. To further support your case, it is important that we gather evidence to develop a domestic violence case against an abusive spouse. Such evidence includes:

  • Photos of injuries, broken property including holes in walls, shattered items
  • Documentary evidence including text messages, emails
  • Eyewitnesses that have seen the abuser or have heard the abuser admit it in conversation.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, it is important that you take immediate action and contact the authorities to help you. Kevin Hickey Law Partners is here to help you, and we understand the amount of sacrifice and courage it takes to divorce an abusive spouse.  Call today to begin the life you deserve. To print your own Laura’s Card, click here.