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9 Things to Avoid When Divorcing a Dangerous Spouse

Mar 27, 2022 | Divorce, Domestic Violence

Divorces in Houston, TX, can be emotionally taxing, especially if you’re dealing with an abusive spouse and/or child endangerment. This doesn’t mean you should stay in a desperate situation but that you must instead take careful steps. You’ll also need to heed the advice of your Sugar Land, TX, attorney. They’ll help you avoid common pitfalls that may harm your case or even heighten a dangerous relationship.

Avoiding Child Endangerment and Other Concerns in Sugar Land, TX: 9 Things to Avoid When Divorcing a Dangerous Spouse in Houston, TX

1. Not Calling the Police

Many spouses hesitate to call the police, even when faced with a dangerous spouse because they don’t want to add to a chaotic situation. But law enforcement can help prevent domestic violence from escalating, especially when you’re going through a divorce. The police will also maintain records that family courts often require before issuing personal protection orders (PPO).

Speaking of such an order, you should seek one as soon as your spouse establishes a pattern of violence. If you lack the necessary evidence to secure a protection order, you can still pursue a restraining order. This will legally require your spouse to leave you alone without making calls, stopping by your home, or trying to physically touch you. If your spouse violates the order, they will be arrested.

2. Forgetting to Collect Evidence

You need evidence for more than a PPO when divorcing a dangerous spouse. It’s also necessary to prove allegations of child endangerment, physical abuse, and/or emotional abuse. The more succinct your reports are, the more likely the courts are to listen. This means listing the facts in a succinct manner and giving particular attention to the most recent events.

As for evidence, it can exist in a variety of forms, including personal journal entries and medical records that substantiate physical injuries. You can even record verbal conversations on your phone, although we recommend you do so discreetly. And remember to save evidence in a secure location where your spouse can’t find it. Your best bet is to get it to your Sugar Land, TX, attorney as soon as possible.

3. Ignoring the Future

When you’re in a threatening relationship, it’s easy to think only about the present. But to properly put your life on track, you need to craft a long-term safety plan as soon as possible.
This generally means moving to a secure place or, if you’re still living in the same home you shared with your spouse, changing the locks so they can no longer enter at will. If you do move, consider having mail delivered to a post office box and providing your address only to those you trust. You might also change your phone number.


The Cash You Need

In many families, a dangerous spouse also controls the finances. This can make it difficult for you to save cash, but with a little creative thinking, it’s possible to acquire the necessary resources. To illustrate, ask for cashback when you purchase groceries or start selling small, unwanted personal items your spouse won’t miss. You should also meet with a financial planner who can help you develop goals for the future.

4. Meeting Your Spouse in Public

If you and your spouse live apart and have shared custody of your children, meeting with them is sometimes unavoidable. But you should never do so alone. It’s much safer to meet in a public and highly visible location, such as a coffee shop, grocery store, or restaurant. Even better is to make the exchange in front of a fire or police station where public servants are present.

It’s not enough, however, to meet in a high-profile place. You should also bring along a friend or family member who can help diffuse a tense situation. And plan ahead by keeping your phone in easy reach. If you need to make a video of threatening behavior or dial 911, you can quickly do so.

5. Suffering in Silence

Once your spouse begins acting in a dangerous way, that behavior is likely to continue. This can make it difficult to have a reasonable discussion about divorce. But this doesn’t mean you should continue to endure a violent situation and live silently in fear. The most important step in an abusive marriage is securing the safety of you and your children. Once that happens, you’re then free to focus on legal issues.

You may be unable to calmly discuss divorce with your spouse, but you can still move forward with filing. An attorney in Houston, TX, can help you craft a plan to stay safe even as you end your marriage. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Think about the future now.

6. Keeping Joint Cards or Accounts

Most married couples have joint credit cards, and you should immediately cancel these. This prevents your spouse from behaving in a way that can adversely impact your credit score.
The same is true of shared bank accounts. Close them down and establish your own personal account where you can safely deposit money. If you’re leaving an abusive relationship, your individual account should be opened at a different bank where your spouse can’t find it. Talk to your lawyer about how to get all this done if you’re not sure.


7. Neglecting to Protect Important Documents

Items like insurance policies, social security cards, and passports should be kept in a neutral place. It’s ideal to also copy these documents and store them in a different location, such as a safe deposit box, where you can easily access them.

It’s even more important to safeguard important documents if you’re leaving a dangerous situation. Keep these documents accessible only to you and those you trust. Likewise, if you have a will, update it with your Sugar Land, TX, attorney and remove your spouse if they were listed as a beneficiary. Also, update insurance policies and safely store family heirlooms or valuable items where your spouse cannot get to them.

8. Following the Same Routine

Many people establish routines and find comfort in sticking to them. But in a dangerous situation, particularly one of child endangerment, you will need to frequently change your routine so your spouse cannot track you.
Take a different route to work, borrow a friend’s car to drive the kids to school, and shop only with a trusted companion so you’re not alone. You might even take advantage of public transit on occasion and change the gym you go to or the time you usually visit.


9. Venting on Social Media

Posting to social media while going through a divorce is a great way to accomplish two things: infuriate your spouse and negatively impact your case. These platforms should never be used to vent about your spouse or divorce. The best thing you can do is avoid social media altogether, meaning you shouldn’t post on the pages of your friends or family members either.
It’s equally important that you never delete any former content. Courts in Houston, TX may perceive the deletion of a post or photo as an attempt to destroy evidence, which is illegal. If you need activities that are not related to social media, try these instead:
  • Journal
  • Walk outdoors
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Take a bath
  • Plan meals for you and your family

Divorcing a dangerous spouse is no simple task, but it can be done. Remember to avoid common mistakes and call the police when needed, gather evidence, and plan for the future. Also, close joint accounts, copy important documents, and avoid social media. Last but not least, hire a legal team that can help you find hope on the other side. Get started today by scheduling a consultation with Skillern Law, PLLC.