I have been in an abusive marriage to a physician for 15 years. I have only been actually hit three or four times, and he is always remorseful. I’ve stayed married for the kids, but now my son is treating me more and more disrespectfully – like his Dad. I must break this pattern and divorce. The problem is, I’m only given an allowance to cover household expenses. I know nothing about our finances. I don’t have money for a lawyer. How man I escape this trap?
Your situation is frightening. When all the control is in your spouse’s hands it’s hard to know how to proceed. Let’s ask a divorce attorney who specializes in abuse cases. Her name is Daniele Johnson:
You have already taken the first step to getting out of the trap by seeking information. The more you know, the stronger you will be for you and your children; and the more likely you are to have a favorable outcome to your divorce.
Joint bank accounts are marital property, no matter what the source. If you have access to any bank accounts, take as much as you need to retain an attorney and to provide for you and your children for at least 3 months. Be sure to keep an accounting of how funds are spent. Likewise, any other personal property, such as, furniture, jewelry and art work, acquired during the marriage is considered marital. You have the right to sell anything marital to initially fund your divorce.
Since this is a domestic violence divorce, you should work very closely with your attorney to devise an exit plan that will be safe for you and the children, such as leaving during a school break or while your husband is away on a business trip. Meanwhile, the complaint for divorce is filed; your husband is served; and a temporary hearing date is set by the court. At the temporary hearing you can request temporary possession of the marital residence, child support and temporary spousal support, which includes attorney’s fees.
Dear Lady, consider attending Visions Anew Institute’s free Divorce Support Groups. Or better yet, attend the next Divorce Survival Weekend, October 26-28.
No one ever expects to divorce. If it is unavoidable, do it with good information, with integrity and with a team of experts. You don’t have to divorce alone.