Emotions run high in any child custody discussion. When you are fighting with your soon-to-be-ex, in person or through your attorneys, that arguing adds extra pressure to the process. When violence and abuse are already present in the relationship, there is added urgency along with a fear of you or your children being victimized.
Whether you are negotiating parenting time and a custody schedule for the first time or you think an existing schedule should be reviewed, it is very important for you to tell your attorney about any abuse. As divorce and family attorneys, we have helped many families through these situations.
First and foremost, if your spouse is abusing you and/or your children, it is critical that you get yourself to safety and follow the protocols of the Bucks and Montgomery County Protection from Abuse (PFA) procedures.
Next, an experienced attorney can help you unravel the tangle of domestic violence as it relates to your custody case. To be clear, just because you say you are being abused does not mean the judge is going to grant you full custody or take away the other parent’s rights. While protection and safety are of primary concern, there needs to be documented proof of abuse. This is where an experienced attorney can help you.
Documentation is a very important part of any abuse case and should include as much detail as you can by date. Remember to not only include details about any physical abuse, but also emotional abuse as well. You will need to find a safe place to store your documentation and sometimes the best place is out of your home and away from where your spouse may find it. Sometimes your computer or phone can be safe. We can help you put the right system in place. Record incidents of physical abuse with a doctor (including pictures) and even with a therapist or social worker. As you document, also make sure to tell at least one trusted confidant what is happening; this can be a friend or family member. This level of documentation is critical so that you have a trail of proof should it ever be needed.
As mentioned above, your safety is of utmost importance and stopping the abuse is the goal. When your emotions run high, working through the legal process can seem tedious and a waste of time. However, all custody issues in Montgomery and Bucks County, PA need to be resolved following a legal procedure and we can help you work through it quickly to obtain the best possible resolution.