How to Handle Divorce from a Violent Spouse

There are many reasons to seek a divorce but escaping abuse from a violent spouse stands alone. Unfortunately, the justifiable fear of angering an already dangerous person often stands in the way of the victim moving forward, and so too does concern over how long the process will take or of the spouse objecting to the marriage being dissolved. Fortunately, the state of Pennsylvania has enacted laws that can move the process along faster.

In 2016, the governor of Pennsylvania signed into law a bill that made it easier for victims of spousal abuse to get a divorce.  Prior to the bill’s passage, it could take as long as two years for a divorce to proceed if one of the two spouses refused to consent, and couples were required to attend at least three court-mandated counseling sessions, despite the dangers that they might pose to the spouse seeking dissolution of the union.

The bill created an exception for situations where a spouse has been convicted of a personal injury against their spouse, creating an assumption of consent and allowing the victim of abuse to object to counseling if there is a protection from abuse order in place. Victims are also permitted to object to counseling if a protection from abuse order is in place or if the abuser has been in an accelerated rehabilitation program as a result of a personal injury case.

The sad truth is that most domestic violence deaths in Pennsylvania have followed victims attempting to leave the relationship, seeking legal protection, or seeking custody of children. If you are in a position of vulnerability, an attorney can help you go through the process while maximizing your safety. They can assist you in obtaining a protection from abuse order designed to keep your spouse from threatening or stalking you, as well as from actual abuse. They can also take action to take advantage of HB12’s exceptions and address your special concerns child custody issues and equitable distribution.

In some cases, a divorce attorney may even be able to ask for compensation for the physical, mental, and emotional suffering that you have suffered at the hands of your spouse. It all starts with speaking to an experienced compassionate attorney who will take action and be a true advocate for you. Contact us today to learn about the protections available and how we can help.