If you decided to leave your spouse because they have become physically violent toward you or abusive of your children, you may feel scared in the early stages of your divorce. It can be hard to know how an abusive spouse or parent will respond to drastic changes in the family structure. You will also likely worry about what your ex could do to your children when you aren’t present to supervise and protect them.
Unfortunately, those fleeing domestic violence through divorce often have an uphill battle. The courts typically will not just take your word for it that your ex was violent toward you or that they present a danger to the children. You need documentation to show why the courts should limit your ex’s parental rights or deny them parenting time.
How can you document the misconduct and abuse you or your children have endured during the marriage?
Formal documentation carries the most weight during court proceedings
The more authoritative the evidence, the easier it will be for you to convince the courts to consider it when deciding on custody matters. Police reports and medical records can go a long way toward showing a history of violence.
Even if you have avoided doing so in the past, it may be time to take yourself for the children to seek professional medical care the next time your spouse has a violent outburst. Records of previous times you have reached out to the police or when neighbors have called out of concern for your safety could also help you show an unsafe and violent home environment.
Your own documentation can work if you can’t turn to the authorities
Those enduring domestic violence may feel like they cannot seek medical care or reach out to law enforcement, especially if their spouse has threatened them for engaging in either of those behaviors. If you don’t feel safe seeking medical treatment for making a police report, then you can create your own chain of documentation before you leave your spouse.
A journal including details of violent outbursts and attacks, including the dates and times they occurred and the injuries you suffered, can help. So can pictures or video of your injuries and the damage to your property that occurred, as punching holes in walls, kicking in doors and throwing items often occurs in conjunction with interpersonal violence. Statements from neighbors or mental health professionals could help corroborate your story as well.
Gathering evidence is an important step for those who want sole custody of their children due to domestic violence.