Questions re: Ugly Divorce

I have a friend who is preparing to file for divorce. Although she has talked about it with her husband (natch), she still feels that it will be a nasty shock to him when the papers are served and she’s afraid he’s going to “act up”. Although they don’t have a history of domestic violence, he has been drinking more and more heavily lately and has skated right up to the edge of it. (During the last fight, he grabbed her briefly by the neck and also picked her up and threw her on the bed when she tried to leave the room.)
Another worry she has is that he will try to take their son. There are two children, but the boy is the only one fathered by him.
My friend is timing things so that the papers will be served during the kids’ spring break, when they will be at their grandmother’s house. However, she’s understandably nervous about her own personal safety. I have offered to let her stay with me, but she says her lawyer has advised her against abandoning the house. Of course, there are restraining orders, but neither of us knows anything about them (except of course, what everyone knows: that they don’t do anyone any good until after a Bad Thing has happened.)
So the problem is: Some unpleasant stuff is due to happen in the next few weeks. Is there anything my friend can do to prevent or at least mitigate it?

He briefly grabbed her by the throat and tossed her on the bed? That IS domestic violence.
She should call the non-emergency line for police and ask how to go about obtaining a restraining order, or call her city/county domestic violence center.

I agree, MissTake, and so does she now that I’ve had a chance to talk some sense into her! She now wishes she had called the police, but she didn’t and no marks were left on her, so it seems kind of silly to call up now…and as I said, even if she were successful in getting a restraining order, it wouldn’t keep her any safer and might just piss him off. I forgot to say he is still living in the house, and according to her, doesn’t believe that she would actually divorce him. That’ll all change when he gets served.

Can she get someone to stay in the house with her for a while?

I assume her lawyer has already advised her to get her own bank account and credit card in her name only if she doesn’t already have one?

It’s not silly at all to call now and and talk to the police, in fact it just might save her life. It is the only way the police will know this man is dangerous. She should get a restraining order and get out of that house immediately, then worry about serving divorce papers. There are always so many reasons why it is hard to just walk out the door, but when someone has already acted violently it is the only way to be safe.

Velma: That’s definitely something to consider. Unfortunately I can’t oblige. Maybe she will know someone who can do that.

Anonymous Coward: I don’t think they have many property issues; at least, that’s not what concerns her at this time. Their main bone of contention is the custody of that boy (which I don’t see a chance in hell of him getting). That’s why she fears he’ll just take the kid.

So_da_ne: We’re discussing that. As things stand, they have gone back to “normal” life, i.e., pretending it never happened. She hopes to keep things calm until the kids go away on their break. At this point, they haven’t been much affected by the situation and she wants to make sure it stays that way. (Apparently the jerkwad doesn’t care.)

All the advice I have given her so far is to just pack some stuff and leave it over at my house; then during the time when the papers will be served, just keep her shoes on her feet and her keys in her pocket. Maybe carry mace. :frowning:

It’s great she has your support, and her family’s. The more people she has visibly and vocally on her side the better.

Just as an example–although the circumstances were different 40 years ago–my husband’s mother packed him and his half-sisters up one night and left my husband’s father after she discovered he had been molesting his step-daughters. He made some attempts to get to them, but these pretty much stopped after she got her previous husband, the ex-marine, to pay him a friendly visit or two.

It sounds like your friend should contact or at least identify a women’s shelter or some sort of hotline. If he has grabbed her once you can be sure that he will do it again. There is usually a “cooling off” period or a period of normalcy after an episode of violence. If you are sure that this is the first time he has touched her she has likely experienced some emotional abuse. Letting the police know what is going on is important too. Maybe she could have a code word that she could use with you if she is in trouble. She should have plans made and a support system in place. This kind of situation can be very volatile and she needs to be careful and organized. It’s good that she has a concerned friend.

I would suggest having a friend come stay with her, at least for that day. Since no one has mentioned it yet, if there are any firearms in the house, she should remove them pronto.

Here’s something not many people getting out of situation like this think of. This is HIGH PRIORITY, and should be done without fail. Tell your friend to gather ALL the important papers, insureance, (health, house, and car etc.) birth certificates, driver’s license/ID card, social security cards, mortgage, bank papers, and bills, (like college loans and credit card info) and get them to a trusted person’s house NOW!

She needs to have all those papers, and he might destroy, or steal them in his rage. This is a thing that a battered woman’s shelter advises a person to do as part of their “escape plan”. She’ll need them to help her fight for custody, and so she can keep paying bills, and to prove her case as to how much he should pay of the bills.

Have her get all that information that proves these things out of the house before he’s served. Get those papers out of his reach, so he can’t be vindictive. My first husband cut my ID in half, and I had a great deal of difficulty getting a new one, and proving who I was to this county’s SSI office. Fortunately I had my social security card, and birth certificate.

I think she should have her mother, or brother or someone come visit her and stay with her at the time the divorce is served, or try to get a less biased witness to stay. Actually though, I don’t think she should be staying there in a situation that stands a good chance of exploding violently. Maybe she can consult a lawyer who helps battered women out, they may know a way for her to be safe, but not “abandon” the house?

Get her to keep a log of the instances of his abuse, date, time, what happened in detail. Have her write down the throwing incident too. These can be presented in court during the divorce, as part of her side.

In that list of important papers do not forget shot records. A kid can’t go to school or some daycare centers without proof of immunization.

She hould not leave the house. Let him leave, instead. After all, she’s going to be taking care of herself & the kids, and they should not have to move out of the house they were raised in.

After the papers are served, give him a reasonable amount of time (a few hours) to pack some things and move in temporarily with family or friends of his. But if anyone is going to have to move out, it should be him. Definately arrange to have some other person(s*) present in the home during this time! And have the locks changed ASAP. And be ready to have police present if you think they are needed.

Of course, her safety takes priority over this. If he starts getting violent, get out of there!

  • It’s best to have more than one person. Not a male friend of similar age – he’ll be accused of having an affair with her. Not entirely her family members – they’ll be accused of “her family ganging up on me”. Best is a married couple whom they both know. (But it may be hard to get anyone other than family or close friends willing to do this for her.)

Thanks, you guys! There’s some very helpful stuff here. I knew I could count on you! I plan to print this for her.