George v. George – Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

While divorce certainly has its challenges, it’s usually preferable to remaining in a union that isn’t working.
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However, when the element of abuse is involved, there are unique and important considerations that must be made before proceeding. It has been proven violent spouses are most prone to extreme acts when the victim is attempting to leave the relationship.

That’s why in these circumstances, it’s imperative to consult with a legal team that understands the situation and can help guide you safely through the process by putting you in touch with social service resources such as shelters, law enforcement and crisis counselors. Safety of our clients is a No. 1 priority. We work to help ensure that by requesting emergency orders of protection, emergency child custody hearings and other measures intended to keep you safe while you leave a toxic relationship.

Our Hammond divorce lawyers know the courts too have evolved significantly on the issue of domestic violence over the last three decades, and there are many tools at victims’ disposal. Victims may also have the upper hand in certain divorce proceedings, particularly with regard to child custody, asset retention and spousal support.

Unless you are in immediate danger, speaking with an attorney first can be a wise decision because leaving the marital home prior to the issuance of a court order could affect issues of spousal support, division of property and child custody.

One way to ensure separation without having to leave the home would be if the abuser was arrested for some domestic violence-related offense. Some common offenses include:

  • Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Domestic Violence
  • Communicating Threats
  • Stalking or Harassing Phone Calls

It’s worth noting criminal court judges too can issue orders of protection in conjunction with that case, so it may not even be necessary for you to file one.

In the recent case of George v. George, the North Dakota Supreme Court was tasked with weighing a request for injunction by an ex-wife who alleged disorderly conduct by an ex-husband who repeatedly contacted her, despite her demands to cease. He was charged criminally with stalking, but the criminal court did not issue an injunction in connection with that case.

So she filed her own request for injunction. She cited a number of incidents, including:

  • Sending her 10 dozen roses to her place of employment on what would have been their tenth wedding anniversary;
  • Driving slowly by her residence after she had asked him to stop;
  • Following her to her car after she left an event to which they had both been invited once she learned he was also there;
  • Hacking into her phone to listen to messages from another man and then confronting her about those messages.

To each of those, the ex-husband had a counter, saying she had been sending him mixed signals and that he only listened to the voicemail at the insistence of the pair’s youngest child.

While a district court judge found husband’s actions “ill-conceived,” saying they were “classic stalking” and citing the pending criminal case, he did not find them to amount to disorderly conduct and thus declined to impose a restraining order. However, the state supreme court reversed and remanded.

The high court indicated the trial court judge’s findings were unclear, and it seemed as if the law had been misapplied with regard to sufficiency of grounds for an injunction. Thus, the case was remanded for further consideration on these points.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
George v. George, December 2014, North Dakota Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Indiana Divorce Involving Co-Owners of Business, May 15, 2014, Hammond Divorce Lawyer Blog