Victims of domestic violence have unique circumstances to consider when resolving child custody matters. Protecting yourself and your children is of the utmost importance when leaving your relationship. When preparing to leave an abusive marriage or partnership, consider the following:
If you are still living with your abuser, it is important to document every episode of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Record the date, time, and details of every incident. If you have physical injuries, maintain any photos, videos, and medical records that show these signs of abuse. They can potentially be used as crucial evidence, should you go before a judge in a child custody matter.
Make a Safety Plan
Leaving an abusive relationship is never easy. The point when you remove yourself from the home can often be the most dangerous. To do so safely, plan your escape weeks or even months ahead.
If possible, start putting away some money for food and other living expenses once you leave. Hide this from your abuser. Give it to a trusted friend or family member outside the home for safekeeping.
Find a safe place to stay after you leave, maybe a shelter or friend’s house that may not be obvious to your abuser.
Seek an Emergency Protective Order if Necessary
If you feel you or your children are in immediate physical danger, you can go to court to seek an emergency protective order. This will give you legal custody of your children and require your abuser to stay away from you.
An emergency protective order is different from a temporary restraining order, in that it can be obtained quickly. They afford you some protection while you take the steps to apply for a long-term restraining order.
It is important to address the custody of your children in this process, or your ex can potentially accuse you of kidnapping. An experienced Burlington County child custody lawyer will guide you through this process.
Pursue Supervised Visitation
As alarming as it may seem, some abusers have visitation rights to see their child, even if they have physically harmed the child’s parent. As long as they have not abused the child, the courts may still grant them visitation. If you suspect that your child’s other parent poses a danger to them in any way, you can seek supervised visitation.
This means that a safe, third-party supervisor must be present when the other parent spends time with your kids. You can also ask that the other parent refrains from drinking alcohol or exposing your children to people you do not believe to be safe during their parenting time.
To schedule a discreet and confidential consultation regarding your situation, contact us by calling (856) 512-1461 or using the simple online form. We have more than two decades of experience successfully resolving family law matters for clients throughout South Jersey. We are based in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey to serve you.