If you live on planet earth, there is a good chance you have heard about the breakdown of the marriage between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, or “Brangelina” as they are often called. According to some reports, the divorce was a surprise to Pitt, who was shocked to receive divorce papers.
It’s difficult to know whether the reports are accurate, however, “surprise” divorces are certainly nothing new. Celebrity fans might recall the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, in which Holmes apparently enlisted the help of her father, an experienced family law attorney, to plan an under-the-radar divorce that granted her sole custody of the couple’s daughter.
Whether you’re a wealthy celebrity or a regular everyday person, getting surprised with divorce is almost always an unpleasant experience. Divorce is painful enough without having to deal with it when you least expect it.
However, as Jacksonville divorce lawyers, we are often asked whether a surprise divorce is appropriate. The answer depends on the circumstances involved in your case. If you think you may need to file for divorce without informing your spouse, it’s important to speak to a knowledgeable family law lawyer.
Is Your Marriage Abusive?
If your spouse is abusive toward you or your children, it may be necessary to plan your divorce without involving your spouse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, two-thirds of violent attacks on women are carried out by someone they know — often a husband or boyfriend.
Tragically, 1,500 women are killed each year by a husband or boyfriend. Because abusers often seek to control their victims’ access to money, transportation, and family members, getting away from an abusive spouse can be difficult and dangerous.
Moreover, if your spouse has harmed your children, you may need to ask the court for an emergency order that grants you sole custody of your children. This is a temporary order that can stay in place while your divorce case is pending.
If you believe your spouse is dangerous, or that he or she might harm your kids as a way of retaliating against you for filing a divorce, you may need to plan your divorce without telling your spouse.
If You Have Been “Surprise Divorced”
In some cases, however, people use surprise divorce because they believe it will give them a head start in the case. Although there is nothing unlawful about filing for divorce without telling your spouse, most people are not inclined to be happy about getting surprise divorce papers handed to them.
If you start off your divorce this way, you may find that your spouse is unwilling to cooperate with you to reach an agreement regarding the issues in your case.
If you have been surprised by divorce, it’s important to get in touch with a lawyer right away. You have important legal rights. If you don’t get experienced legal help on your side, however, you could end up compromising them in your divorce case.
Call a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce doesn’t have to be a hostile experience. At the same time, you can’t control how the other side acts in a divorce case. If you have been surprised by a divorce, you don’t have to do this alone.
If you would like to end your marriage, but you are worried about your safety or the safety of your kids, it’s critical to speak to a Jacksonville divorce lawyer about your options. Call an experienced family law attorney today to discuss your case.