Domestic Abuse and Divorce: How Does It Work?

For many men and women all over the UK, domestic abuse is the sole reason for divorce. Experiencing any kind of abuse can be exhausting on both your physical and mental health, but you may struggle to get help when divorcing an abusive partner.

According to the charity Living Without Abuse, domestic violence will affect one in four women, and one in six men, throughout their lifetime. But, despite knowing that your marriage is unhealthy and dangerous, many spouses fear for their life when thinking about a divorce.

In this guide to understanding domestic abuse in marriage, we’ve shared the signs of an abusive relationship – and how to get help with a divorce:

Types of domestic abuse

When it comes to recognizing domestic abuse, you may assume that you’re not a victim until you’ve been physically hit. However, domestic violence in marriage can come in many forms, not just physical, and be experienced by both men and women. This includes:

  • Physical – including hitting, slapping or punching
  • Emotional or psychological – including name calling or giving threats
  • Sexual – including rape or being forced to do a sexual act without consent
  • Financial– including limiting access to your own bank accounts or stealing your money

First steps

If you think that your life is in danger, call 999. Emergency services are specially trained to dealing with incidents of domestic violence in marriages, with some even having specialist Domestic Violence Units or Community Safety Units to ensure that you’re safe.

There are several charities that can also assist. You don’t need to worry about your abusive partner discovering your contact with these charities, as many offer a confidential service with work-arounds to reinforce your privacy.

Some of the most common charities for getting help with domestic abuse in marriage include:

These charities can help you to move out of the family home and locate a safe place for you to live while legal proceedings begin.

Taking legal action

When you’re planning to file for a divorce, you must list the reasoning behind your decision on your application form. Domestic violence in a marriage is one of these reasons, listed under ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

The process of divorcing from an abusive spouse begins with this petition, where you clearly state that your ex-spouse had been abusive to you throughout your marriage. This, along with your original marriage certificate, will then be sent to the Court. Your partner will then receive a copy.

Later in the divorce process, you’ll also be required to organise a financial settlement. This clearly outlines the way in which your finances will be divided, and you may want to consider a clean break order after divorce.

Legal aid

Currently, the cost of a divorce in the UK is £550. However, you may not have to pay this sum yourself if you’re divorcing because of domestic abuse.

The Government offer Legal Aid for these situations, whereby you can claim money to cover legal costs. In order to qualify, you’ll need to provide evidence of the abuse. This can include evidence from the Police, a refuge manager, social services or your banking provider.

Here at 1Solicitors, we specialise in domestic abuse and divorces. Working with your charity to create a clear and safe path to divorce your abusive ex-spouse without putting yourself in more danger, we offer a 24/7 support line to discuss your legal matters.

To book your confidential consultation with one of our team, simply call us on 0330 053 7117 or contact us online. With specialist family solicitors in York and five other locations across the UK, there’s always someone there to help.

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