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Is Filing For Divorce Dangerous?

Closeup of a sad husband lamenting after divorce holding the wedding ring in a house interior

Many may not view divorce as a dangerous situation. In fact, the process of separating from your spouse is normalized in today’s society. Individuals have the legal right to divorce their spouse, even if the other party does not want to proceed with the filing. While in most circumstances an individual can separate from their spouse safely, it is important to recognize that this is not always the case. It is possible for the process to take a wrong turn.

There are certain circumstances that could make suggesting or filing for a divorce a dangerous choice. The team at Bush & Taylor, P.C. can help explain.

When Your Spouse is Abusive

Did you know? It is estimated that roughly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience a form of physical violence in their intimate relationships. This is a staggering number of individuals that are in unsafe relationships. It is easy for people outside of these relationships to simply suggest that they should leave or divorce their partner.

However, for people in abusive relationships, it is not as simple as “just filing for divorce.” Merely suggesting a separation could put them in a more dangerous situation. There are ways to navigate these situations with safety in mind.

Filing For the Right Type of Divorce

Filing for the right type of divorce can help reduce the potential dangers encountered throughout the process. If your spouse demonstrates behaviors that put you at risk, your safety should always come first. In Virginia, you can file for either a no-fault or fault-based divorce.

If your spouse is verbally or physically abusive, this does constitute a reason for a fault-based divorce. However, you have to provide some type of evidence that demonstrates that the abuse has taken place. Evidence may include:

  • Eye witness testimony
  • Telephone records
  • Police reports or records
  • Photo documentation

While a fault-based divorce can provide some benefits, it may not be the most advisable in situations where abuse is a contributing factor.

An individual in an abusive relationship may elect to still proceed with a no-fault divorce, even if there is evidence of abuse taking place in the relationship. The primary reason for this is that placing blame could potentially only add fuel to the fire, encouraging an individual to further act out on their emotions surrounding the divorce. Furthermore, a no-fault divorce typically takes less time to process.

Are There Protections Available?

Regardless of the type of divorce you file for, it is crucial to have additional protections in place for safety in abusive or dangerous situations. The first step in doing this is to request a protection order from the courts. A protection order can require your spouse to stay away from you and restrict interactions. An attorney can assist you in this process, and help ensure your safety.

When the judge reviews your request for a protective order and if they deem that your spouse is a danger, they can put it into effect immediately. Keep in mind that your spouse may contest or dispute this order, which can result in you both making appearances in court.

If the court issues the order, your spouse must adhere to the protections put in place. If they fail to do so, you have the right to contact the police and have your spouse arrested. Violations of protective orders are extremely serious and can ultimately result in jail time.

Do You Have to Mention Abuse?

When filing for your divorce, the choice to mention any potential abuse that has taken place is entirely up to you. Some individuals may feel as though mentioning the abuse that has taken place is more dangerous. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when making these decisions. How long ago did the abuse take place? How severe was the abuse? Do you think your spouse or ex will continue to engage in abusive behaviors? Taking these factors into consideration is crucial.

Have Legal Support in These Situations

If you feel as though your decision to file for a divorce is a dangerous one, it is essential to have a legal representative on your side. An attorney can help ensure your safety and guide you through this difficult time.

Reach our office today at (757) 926-0078 to schedule a consultation.

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