Filing divorce as an abused spouse in Florida

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Firm News

Divorce is a challenging process for anyone, but it becomes even more complex when escaping an abusive marriage. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you do not need to prove fault to obtain a divorce, but abusive marriages can trap spouses in a cycle of fear and control. In Florida, as elsewhere, abuse can manifest in various forms, not all of which leave physical scars but are equally damaging. Recognizing abuse is the first step toward seeking freedom and safety.

Common types of abuse

Signs of abuse often go beyond visible injuries to include constant criticism, threats, forced isolation from friends and family and other restrictions. Abuse within a marriage can be one or a combination of the following:

  • Physical abuse includes any form of violence.
  • Emotional abuse involves manipulation, intimidation and isolation.
  • Financial abuse is when one spouse exerts control over the other’s financial resources, limiting their independence.

Importance of seeking help

Leaving an abusive marriage requires careful planning to ensure the safety of you and any children involved. It’s vital to create a discreet exit strategy, secure important documents, and seek legal advice before taking action. Local support networks, including hotlines, shelters and counseling services, can also provide the necessary resources to begin the process of leaving an abusive relationship.

Divorce attorneys are essential to the process

When the time comes to leave, a divorce attorney can play a crucial role in helping you and any children involved make their safe exit and then handle the details of the divorce:

  1. Legal protection: An attorney can quickly help you file for a protection order to legally prevent the abuser from contacting or approaching you and your children.
  2. Guidance on rights: They can inform you about your rights and the legal processes involved in divorce, including issues related to custody, support, and property division.
  3. Advocacy in court: Your attorney can represent you in court, present your case effectively, and work to ensure that the judge understands the abuse’s impact on your marriage.
  4. Confidentiality: An attorney can provide a safe environment for you to discuss the details of your situation and can help protect your privacy throughout the process.
  5. Support and resources: They can connect you with local support services and resources to help you through the emotional and practical challenges during and after your divorce.
  6. Negotiation: Your attorney can handle negotiations with your spouse’s legal representation, which is especially important if direct communication could be dangerous for you due to the abusive nature of your relationship.
  7. Strategy: They can help you develop a strategy for leaving the marriage safely and starting the next chapter of your life with the necessary legal and financial protections in place.

You are not stuck

Abused spouses do have options. A divorce attorney with experience in abusive situations can navigate the complex and potentially dangerous divorce process, ensuring that you are taking the proper steps to protect yourself and the children.