Divorcing an Abusive Spouse in Florida

Jacksonville Family Law Attorneys, Protecting Your Safety

Unfortunately, thousands of women (and some men) will remain in an abusive marriage for fear of violent reprisals from their spouses. Even though the state of Florida takes a hard stance against domestic violence, the grip that abusers have on their victims often freezes them into inaction. At Owenby Law, P.A., a significant portion of our clients have confided in us that they are currently being abused or have been abused in the past. Many of my clients are unwilling or feel that they are unable to prosecute their attackers, so when they are seeking a divorce, they must proceed cautiously.

Wish to file for divorce? Call (904) 770-3141 for a free and confidential consultation.

Leaving an Abuser? Take Necessary Precautions.

No two divorces are alike, and when you involve the presence of an abuser, the situation becomes even more unpredictable. The following list is not legal advice and if you are in an abusive relationship, it is strongly recommended that you call the police.

You should consider taking the following precautions:

  • Don't break the news in person – While this may seem cold, it is much safer dealing with an abusive spouse from a distance. If a telephone call is really not an option, have a friend in the house or standing nearby to act as a deterrent to your spouse.
  • Prepare an exit safety plan BEFORE discussing the divorce – If you think that there's a possibility that your abusive spouse will be angered by your decision to leave—and this is almost always the case—it's not a good idea to remain in the home after you break the news. If possible, have a place to go, like your parent's or a friend's house.
  • Make a police report – Keep case numbers. Police reports can be used as documented evidence in divorce and child custody proceedings. Even if you have to file the report surreptitiously and don't want to file arrest charges, contact your local police department and ask for an incident report.
  • Get a restraining order – Your spouse does not have to be charged in order for you to qualify for a temporary domestic violence injunction. Many of my clients have nowhere to move once they've announced their decision to divorce their spouses. A restraining order forces the respondent to vacate the residence, which solves the immediate residency problem.

It is also highly recommendable that you confide in your Jacksonville divorce lawyer. Everything you tell your divorce lawyer is protected by the attorney-client privilege. It is in your best interest to be open and honest with the professional you've retained for his or her legal knowledge. A divorce lawyer can't force you to disclose information to the police or to press charges. Don't be embarrassed to tell your attorney about abuses that have been committed against you. He or she will probably have a unique perspective.

Please contact us for more information about how our firm can help you.