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Start planning now to put an abusive spouse behind you

When you got married, your spouse seemed perfect. Now, however, after years of marriage, all the masks have fallen away. People are often on their best behavior when dating, only revealing their true selves after marriage. That is one of many reasons why people find themselves trapped in an abusive marriage. You don't need to accept physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse as part of your life.

Getting out of an abusive relationship is difficult, especially if you depend on your spouse for financial support. If you intend to seek a divorce due to spousal abuse, you need to start planning as soon as possible. You should also inform yourself of how abuse accusations can impact divorce proceedings.

Seek expert advice and a protection order if necessary

For many people leaving violent and abusive relationships, the transition of leaving is one of the most dangerous times. If your spouse has threatened you or your children with physical injury or worse if you leave, you need to document those threats and take them seriously. Text messages, voicemails and emails can all help you show the courts the potential for danger and help you secure an order of protection.

An order of protection won't inherently stop your spouse from contacting you, but it will create a framework for repercussions for any kind of harassment. If your spouse violates the order, you can contact law enforcement to have him or her arrested. That order of protection can help you protect your children in the future as well.

The courts may consider serious parental abuse during custody proceedings

One of the biggest fears of abused spouses is the potential for the abuser to have full or partial custody of any marital children. Thankfully, the courts in Colorado really focus on the best interests of the children in a custody hearing. Typically, the best interests of the children include having an ongoing relationship with both parents.

However, if one parent has been physically abusive of the children or abused the other parent in front of the children, that could result in the courts awarding sole custody to the non-abusive parent. When there is clear evidence of abuse, the courts may reduce, monitor or even eliminate parenting time for the abuser.

Don't hide assets, but seek financial stability

Many people suggest building up a cash reserve before filing for divorce, but doing so could create a legally complicated situation. It's important to know that hiding assets could hurt you in the long term when you seek a divorce.

Develop a social safety net by arranging to stay with friends or family while you seek employment and permanent housing. Do everything in your power to limit your own legal vulnerabilities prior and during the divorce. Doing so will protect you, as well as your children.

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