What Steps Should I Take When Divorcing an Abusive Spouse?

Abusive spouse

Within the state of Florida, 34.2% females and 24.6% males have experienced domestic violence at some point in their life and almost 20% of individuals have experienced some form of abuse in their marriage. If you have experienced abuse from your spouse and are seeking a divorce, discuss your concerns with your Florida Divorce Attorney. We will seek to protect you physically, through legal actions, while also protecting your rights during your divorce proceeding.

The first step is to determine a plan to maintain your physical safety immediately. You may proceed with criminal action or civil action when dealing with an abusive spouse. Under Florida statute 741.28 domestic violence entails any “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” If your spouse has abused you in any way, you may seek criminal action. You may make a complaint with your local law enforcement agency and document the incident, as well as any injuries you received. If the court finds probable cause, they will issue an arrest warrant for your spouse and continue to prosecution. The criminal offense of domestic violence is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. The punishments surrounding this conviction may include: up to a year in jail, twelve months of probation, a $1,000 fine, community service, completion of a Batter’s Intervention Program, and surrender of firearms.

If you do not wish to pursue criminal penalties, you may discuss with your Florida Divorce Attorney the need to petition the court for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. This petition must contain the relationship between you and your spouse as well as evidence and description of the violent act. If granted the court may order your spouse to not come within a certain distance of you, your home, or your place of work. They may prohibit your spouse from attempting any type of contact with you, and order your spouse to leave the shared residence. Further, the order may provide you with temporary custody of your shared children. Finally, the court may also require your spouse to attend a Batter’s Intervention Program, counseling, or treatment center. These injunctions are crucial to establish a safety plan for you and your family. With an injunction in existence, your abusive spouse will suffer criminal penalties or civil penalties, upon violation of the protective order.

With an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence in existence during a divorce, the court will take it into account in many different aspects of a final judgment of divorce. For instance, the court will consider the protection of the children from abuse, as well as from witnessing such abuse, when determining custody. Further, the court may establish safety protocols in order to allow the parents to not speak or come in contact with each other when an exchange of the children may need to be made.

Your physical protection is of the utmost importance and if you are divorcing an abusive spouse, discuss with your Florida Divorce Attorney pursuing both criminal and civil protections. These injunctions and criminal proceedings will protect you from future harm and will provide you with easy access to the courts if a violation of the protective order occurs.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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