Divorce is a stressful time for most people. While most divorces can become somewhat heated, in extreme cases violence can erupt. In volatile situations, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. What are some things you can do to make sure everyone stays safe in a divorce?
Avoid Volatile Situations
The best way to stay safe is to avoid dangerous situations. You would never walk down a dark alley alone at night. Avoiding danger in a divorce is the same. Refusing to put yourself into a situation that could be dangerous trumps getting yourself out of peril every time.
In a divorce situation, you know your spouse. You know what he or she is capable of. You can predict his or her behavior. In most cases we expect an emotional response when the divorce papers are served. Will your spouse cry? Will he or she yell and scream? Is violence possible? Here’s a hint: If your spouse has been violent before, you can’t rule out violence as a response.
Planning for safety means considering if you need to be around your spouse when the papers are served. Another prime time for violence is when one party moves out of the residence. Of course, when one party tries to take the kids, violence is an option. Prepare to avoid these hazardous situations.
Your lawyer will be able to work with you to help plan the safest way to proceed with the divorce process. Be sure to discuss any past abuse when you and your lawyer plan how to serve your spouse. Here are some other considerations:
- Is it safe for you to be in the presence of your spouse when he or she is served with divorce papers?
- If your spouse is served at home, will you be welcome at the house? Would it be better if your spouse is served while he or she is at work and you are home?
- Once your spouse is served, will you be able to safely retrieve your belongings and supplies for the kids?
- Can your spouse be trusted not to destroy your belongings that are left in the house if you move out?
- If you must flee for your safety, you can’t leave the kids. What is your plan for the children?
Prepare for a Fast Escape
If you need to leave the home to stay safe, you need a plan to get lost quick. Unfortunately, many times when people decide to leave the house, they leave with the clothes on their backs. Planning for safety means having the items you need for yourself and kids. Think about the clothes, hygiene items, school supplies and more you and the kids will need if you leave the house for a few days.
Not only do people leave without supplies, they leave without a place to go. Do some research before you need to leave a dangerous situation in a hurry. Can you go to a friend’s house? Will your parents take you in? Do you need to go to a shelter?
Think of the various things you’ll need for a few days if you must get lost quickly. Pack some clothes for yourself and for the kids. Pack some hygiene items too. It may be easier to purchase hygiene items for this purpose since you wouldn’t want to pack your current deodorant, toothbrush, shampoo, etc.
Consider packing some travel bottles full of shampoo, conditioner, and other liquids rather than full size bottles to save space. Likewise, pack travel size toothpaste and soap. Smaller bottles will leave more room in a pack or bag than full size bottles. Remember, ideally, you won’t have to rely on these supplies more than a day or two. After that you should be safely away from your dangerous partner so you can buy the supplies you need.
Don’t forget some cash. Even a small amount of cash, $20-$50 will be a huge help if you and the kids are on your own for a few days. Keep in mind that if you are forced to leave quickly, the person you are leaving may have your card shut off by the bank. That would leave you with no cash and no working card to get cash. Having some cash in your bag makes sense.
An imminent or pending family law case does not separate you from emergency services. Your right to self-defense remains as well. In the case of an emergency call 911 like you always would. If you must defend yourself or the children, you have that right. While it is always best to avoid a volatile situation, sometimes emergencies happen.
In a dangerous or emergency situation don’t waste time trying to call your lawyer. Call 911. Get first responders on the way. Get yourself and your kids to safety. Lawyers can only really help you during the hours that the court is open. So, get yourself safe before calling your lawyer.
Remember that your right to self defense extends through any family law case. Just because a family law case is filed does not mean your right to defend yourself is in any way affected. The court prefers civility, but the court never expects people to be abused or to be victimized for civility’s sake.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas law firm dedicated to family law. We help working people through divorce so they can start their new happily ever after. We also proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients. This essay is intended for educational use only and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at (817) 601-5345, find us on the web at youngblood-law.com.
Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #collaborativedivorce #beingdivorceddoesntsuck