Divorce and separation is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. It seems as if everything is in a state of upheaval: your finances, your time with your children, and your emotional health. The accusations a separating couple can fling at each other can be really upsetting and sometimes scary.
Many times clients ask me what to do if they find themselves having an argument with their spouse that gets heated, and more importantly what to do if the argument gets physical.
First, if an argument is getting heated and you are getting concerned for your safety retreat from your spouse and go to a different part of the home. If you can’t retreat into another room leave the home. If it does not appear that your spouse will allow you to retreat and is getting aggressive or even physical, then you must call 911.
If there has been a physical incident, and your spouse will not leave the home, you should leave the home and file for a protective order as soon as possible. The local commissioner’s office is open twenty four (24) hours a day and can assist you in filing the relevant paperwork. Your attorney should be able to assist you during business hours.
Domestic Violence is serious and can affect your divorce, your custody case and even your liberty. The best thing you can do is protect yourself and not engage. If this is not the first or a single incident, and/or if you sustain serious injuries you should immediately seek legal representation, counseling and escape from what is certainly a volatile situation.
- Walk away, go to another room
- Call 911, be very detailed with the Police as to why you are concerned for your health or safety. If there were any past incidents you should describe those as well.
- Leave the house if necessary
- Stay at a friend’s house for the night
- In the right circumstances you should seek counseling for you and your spouse
- Call your attorney once you are in a safe place
- If there was abuse, then file for Protective Order.
- If you sustained any injuries seek immediate medical attention
- If your injuries are not severe enough for medical attention, then at minimum take photographs of any bruises.
- Don’t ever hit back, don’t ever push past your spouse, if possible don’t make any physical contact at all.
- Do not ever make any threats, no matter how angry you are.
- If your spouse is out of control, and you have children, don’t leave your children in the home with your spouse. Call 911.
If you find yourself in a domestic violence situation, take immediate steps to protect yourself and your children. Maryland, Montgomery County, and DC all have departments and resources to help victims of domestic violence. The Montgomery County government operates the Family Justice Center which offers services and assistance to those in domestic violence situations, find more here Family Justice Center. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence is a state run organization which can also help, found here mnadv.org, or visit this page operated by the Maryland Courts . If you are in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Police operates with links and contact information for shelters and other resources.