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Leaving a violent marriage

Unfortunately, some Maryland residents will experience domestic violence at some point during their lives. It is a common cause of divorce. Victims of domestic violence may wonder how they will navigate the divorce process when children are involved.

University of Illinois researchers studied how parents interacted during the first year of separation after a violent relationship compared to couples who had not experienced violence prior to separation. The researchers divided the types of violence women had experienced into two groups: coercive controlling violence and situational couple violence.

Situational violence was characterized by violence that occurred after arguments escalated. Coercive controlling violence involves an ongoing campaign by one partner to control the other.

The researchers found that women who had experienced situational violence found it easier to co-parent after a separation than those who had experienced coercion and control. Women in the latter group experienced more harassment and unpredictability. The couples that had experienced situational violence still experienced more conflict when trying to co-parent after a separation than ones that had not dealt with violence in a relationship.

Domestic violence victims may wonder what legal protections are available when they are considering leaving their violent partners. Domestic violence can be used as grounds for a petition for divorce and affects the child custody determinations that trial judges make.

Victims can file restraining orders on behalf of themselves and their children if they fear that their partners may continue to stalk, threaten or harass them. An attorney experienced in family law may be able to help domestic violence victims during the divorce process by informing them of their legal rights, advocating on their behalf, filing pleadings, interviewing witnesses and participating in negotiations.

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