Abuse – When Divorce Is Urgent

Occasionally, the decision to divorce is inescapable. In instances of mental or physical spousal or child abuse, the victim does not have the luxury of merely considering separation. When his or her life or the lives of their children are at risk, a spouse must make a quick and abrupt break.

 The victim must seek help and remove him or herself from the situation as quickly as possible.

The victim must seek help and remove him or herself from the situation as quickly as possible.

Abuse includes verbal abuse. The recipient of verbal abuse from a spouse or former spouse must cool the situation immediately by calling a stop at the first sign of it. If the verbal abuse continues, he or she she should deal with the spouse or former partner through a third party. Verbal abuse, depending on the circumstances, can be considered harassment or criminal conduct, and as such, could support the issuance of a protective order.

Women are most often the victims of domestic violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a woman is battered every nine seconds. Almost 5 percent of battering victims are men. At the center of abusive relationships are issues of power, with the abuser using mental or physical violence to maintain control. Victims often deny the abuse, even when they recognize typical battering tactics that include:

> Isolation, which keeps the victim locked into the relationship because he or she is away from family and friends.

> Intimidation, which includes looks, actions, and gestures.

> Name calling, which is always a factor of emotional abuse.

> Threats, when the batterers threaten their partners as a means of coercion.

> Economics, which keeps a victim on a financial string.

> Minimalization, which means batterers minimize violence they perpetrate by saying such things as, “What’s the big deal? I didn’t really hit you; I just slapped you.”

> Blaming the victim, which happens when batterers blame their partners for the violence, saying they were provoked.

> Using the children, which means using the children to relay intimidating messages or harassing the victim during child visitation.

The batterer often denies the violence and tells his or her spouse that he or she imagines it. Or he or she uses the power of suggestion to intimidate a partner. For example, when a batterer sees his wife talking to a man at a party, he clenches his fist, so she knows she facing a beating when they get home. He might also intimidate her by destroying her personal property or displaying weapons around the house or even harming a pet she loves.

Threats can be directed at the victim, at the victim’s family and friends, or even at the batterer himself. Threatening suicide if a spouse leaves is not uncommon.

Batterers often control family finances and might keep the victim on a tight financial leash. Sometimes the victims of abuse lack access to family bank accounts and might be prevented from taking or keeping a job.

In the face of domestic violence, the family and friends of a victim should provide unconditional support when they suspect a loved one is in an abusive marriage, which may mean providing a safe haven so the victim can escape. The victim must seek help and remove him or herself from the situation as quickly as possible.

And sometimes a victim must move toward divorce quickly. Kansas allows for an emergency divorce. Under Kansas law, there is a 60-day waiting period on all petitions for divorce. However, if at least one of the spouses demonstrates that certain extenuating circumstances exist, the court may grant an emergency divorce, including cases that involve domestic abuse, financial considerations, or those who want to leave the state.

After being presented with these essential facts, the judge may grant an emergency divorce. However, the request will not be heard until the window for writing an answer (usually 20 or 30 days, depending on the service) passes. The judge delivers his or her decision in an order that notes that an emergency exists, what it entails, whatever the evidence, and the names of the witnesses that presented this evidence. Furthermore, if emergency circumstances exist that endangers a child, then the judge can grant temporary residency to a close relative.

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