Domestic Violence Divorce

Divorcing an Abusive Husband

If you are in an abusive marriage, getting out could possibly mean the difference between life and death. Intimate partner violence happens regardless of age, race, gender, socioeconomic class, physical abilities, or sexual orientation. In the United States, 50% of women have experienced some form of aggression by a partner in their lifetime. What’s more, information compiled by the American Psychological Associationshows that, each day, an average of at least three women are murdered by husbands or boyfriends. Here’s what you can do to leave your abusive husband.

Plan Ahead (Privately!)

There comes a point when a woman decides that it is no longer in her best interest to stay with an abusive husband. Perhaps, his violence has recently escalated or he is involving the children in your disagreements. When you make the choice to leave, know that it won’t be easy. You are not only terminating a marriage, but you are also running the risk of enraging him by your departure. This is why it is best to start planning your departure in private beforehand. Reach out to encouraging family members or friends who are willing to help you, and let them know your plan. Divorcing an abusive husband can be a heart wrenching decision, but it is one that you are doing for the safety and welfare of yourself and your children.

Protect Yourself and Seek Support

When you leave have an exit plan in place and some things gathered for yourself and the children. If your husband is particularly watchful, you may be able to leave a few things with family or friends over a span of weeks so that you can walk out empty-handed. If your spouse threatens harm, you may have to get a restraining order to protect yourself. Be warned that the 24 hours following the issuance of a restraining order are the most volatile. See if the police will escort you to a family member’s house or contact a local women’s shelter to see if you can stay at a safe house until things are settled. It may also be practical to reach out to a women’s domestic violence support group or get counseling services to help you through this tumultuous time.

Child Custody and Abusive Situations

Your husband may have warned you of what he would do if you ever tried to take his children away. Still, if you are in fear of your life, it is best to get your children out of the cross-fire as well. Besides, the judge who presides over your divorce proceedings will certainly questions why you as the mother left your children in an abusive environment. Take them with you so that your spouse cannot use them as leverage to make you agree to his terms in the divorce, or, worse, try to force you to return to an abusive relationship. You have a right to fight for child custody, especially if you have some form of proof that living with him is too volatile for your children.

Get Competent Legal Assistance from an Experienced Utah Family Law Attorney

As mentioned above, the dynamics of an intimate partner violence relationship can lead some women to be intimidated into an unfair divorce agreement. Contact a qualified attorney who is trained in handling cases like yours, so that you are not intimidated during the divorce proceedings..

In most divorce cases, mediation is often the first method to finalize a divorce, however, for domestic violence cases it may not be appropriate, and the courts will waive the mediation requirement. If you have been attacked, raped, or stalked by your husband, it’s important to document it for proof. A lawyer can help you file criminal charges for these transgressions. An experienced divorce attorney and family lawyer can help you navigate these waters and assist you with the divorce and custody cases.


When divorcing an abusive husband, employ these strategies to safely leave him and the marriage:

  • Develop an exit plan to get you and your children out of his presence.

  • Reach out to family, friends, or women’s shelter for assistance.

  • Secure a restraining order if you believe your life is in danger.

  • See a psychologist or mental health provider to help you through the ordeal.

  • Document any assaults or trespassing to support your case in court.

  • Contact a professional divorce or family lawyer like Stacey Schmidt.

Attorney Stacey Schmidt has numerous years of experience working alongside victims of domestic violence, while supporting their interests in divorce proceedings. If you would like to get more information on divorcing an abusive spouse, contact the law offices of Schmidt Law Firm for a free 30 minute consultation.