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How to Divorce an Abusive Spouse

Millions are affected by domestic violence every year. Studies show that violence occurs at least once in two-thirds of all marriages, with 95% of the victims being women. While freeing yourself from any unhealthy marriage can be complicated, throw in domestic abuse and it requires extra planning and special consideration.

1. Escape Plan

Your first step to divorcing an abusive spouse should be to gather copies of police reports, credit card bills, bank statements, passports and other documents that may be of use when you leave your home. Don’t leave the copies in the home your spouse lives in; instead, hand them over to a trusted friend. Next, establish a means for people to contact you without your spouse finding out. You can get a post office box or purchase a cheap disposable cell phone with prepaid minutes. Finally, find a place to stay at. Contact your friends and family if you’re unable to get a place of your own, for the meantime.

2. Contact a Lawyer

Once your plan is set, contact a divorce lawyer who has experience with domestic violence issues. A lawyer can answer any important questions, get a restraining order in place, file a domestic violence lawsuit, file for divorce, work to get custody of your kids and represent you in court and deal with the abusive spouse.

4. Leave Your Home

After you find an attorney, it’s time to pack your things and leave. If you were able to get a restraining order, a judge may order your spouse to leave your home. However, if that does not happen, it’s in your best interest to leave. Do so while your spouse is at work or elsewhere, so as to not arouse suspicion. Grab your kids and head to your new location or your friend’s or family’s house. If you’re in immediate danger, call the police and have them escort you to a shelter.

6. File for Divorce

Now that you’re away from your spouse, your lawyer can help you file for divorce and have your spouse served with papers. Florida is no-fault state, so your lawyer will need to bring up the issue of abuse to the attention of the court. No-fault laws generally mean that you don’t have to accuse your spouse of wrongdoing to get a divorce.


At Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A., our Clearwater domestic violence attorneys are committed to helping you seek safety away from an abusive partner and coordinate with the police to file for a restraining order. If you need support, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible.

Call (727) 245-9009 or contact us onlineto make an appointment. We serve clients throughout Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Hillsborough Counties.

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