Women At Risk in Divorce

The Department of Justice reports that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence during their lives. Further research shows that domestic violence and abuse is statistically as likely to occur in any segment of society. This means it cuts across all socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Women can face complications in divorcing their husbands because of specific obstacles that make leaving their spouse seem nearly impossible. The two most cited obstacles to leaving an abusive husband are finances and children.

At Risk Women & Economic Abuse

divorce for women in paMany women in abusive relationships are either told they cannot work outside the home, or have trouble maintaining a job because of the abuse they face from their spouse. The day-to-day risk of physical and verbal abuse can also prevent them from applying for jobs altogether.

An abusive partner will also take strict control of all income and assets, and may even bar access completely. These are all instances of economic abuse, an integral element in long-term domestic violence and abuse cases. Lack of financial support and resources is the most common barrier to divorce for at-risk women.

Overcoming the Financial Barrier

Our family law practice helps women take an accurate assessment of their finances before, during and after divorce. We help you to identify all sources of income, assets, any marital debts, and the expenses you will likely need to plan for. If you have been financially dependent on your husband, we can request temporary spousal support or alimony pendente lite from your spouse.

Temporary spousal support and APL are both forms of alimony one spouse receives from the other while their divorce is pending. An experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney can request APL for a client early on in the divorce process. Once granted, you can receive alimony income until the divorce decree is granted. Additionally, you may also have your legal fees paid by your financially independent spouse.

Under circumstances where the requirements are demonstrated to the court, you can obtain a more permanent order for alimony.

Obtaining Child Custody

Many women who are at risk in abusive marriages have children with their spouse. The possibility, no matter how remote, of losing custody of your child/ren is terrifying. Even shared custody seems unacceptable. Know this: You have an inherent right to custody of your child. The courts almost never take this right away from a parent.

You may be given majority custody of your children. Or, you may have to share custody of your children with their father. The courts are likely to follow the body of research on domestic violence showing that abuse directed toward the wife rarely carries over to the children. For this reason, the Court may grant shared custody, if requested.

There are exceptions to this standard. If you have good reason to believe that your children will still be at risk in the custody of their father, then we can help you demonstrate that risk to the Court.

Evacuation Plan for Women At Risk

A woman may fear that the act of leaving or filing for divorce will trigger serious retaliation by her husband. Verbal and emotional conflicts are common, especially when the desire for divorce is not mutual. However, at-risk situations demand planning and vital preparation to avoid dangerous conflicts. When children are involved, the legal planning for the safe evacuation of you and your child/ren can become more complex. However, there are some legal measures we can plan for that may allow you to safely maintain immediate custody.

Attorney Dana Richardson has worked with at-risk women, with and without children, in Pennsylvania divorce cases. She helps women in abusive marriages carefully plan for safe removal from their abusive environments by using a well thought-out evacuation plan.

Without the right support system and legal help in place, many women remain stuck in abusive and unhealthy marriages. Let us help. We work with you through this difficult time in our joint commitment with you to end the cycle of abuse. We recognize your courage and will leverage the law to benefit and reward your courage to the best of our abilities.

If you are dealing with issues of domestic abuse, please contact us to find out if our comprehensive legal services can assist you. Do not hesitate to identify yourself as an at-risk woman if you leave a message or live-chat with us. We will take special note of how and when you want to communicate with us. We have 24-hour phone availability, and can extend office meetings to weekends by appointment.

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