Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, Jennifer Rose, answers reader’s questions about family and matrimonial law.
Dear Jennifer: My husband of 12 years is very physically abusive and I’m considering leaving him. Part of my problem is that I’m afraid people will ridicule me for getting divorced. We’ve been through counseling plenty of times and he always does better for a while but then goes right back to beating me up. What do you think I should do? Scared in Shelby
Dear Scared: I get so aggravated every time I hear about an abuser! First and foremost you need to consider your safety first. I suggest finding a safe way to get out of the home and a place to stay temporarily such as with a parent, friend, or family member. After you’ve gotten away from the home you have multiple options such as getting an emergency PFA (protection from abuse order) from the court. A PFA can do things such as allow the police to help you get your things, give you temporary usage to the home while evicting the abuser, give you access to vehicles and other property, as well as serve to stop further abuse, stalking, and harassment. You also should consider going to see a victim advocates group such as the YWCA or a personal counselor to help with the emotional trauma that has been caused. You deserve to be happy. Living with someone who abuses you is not good for your health or happiness so I think you are right to get out. Those who love you will not fault you for getting out of a dangerous situation. Feel free to call my office if you need assistance. Good luck and God bless.
Dear Jennifer: What normally happens with the pets in a divorce, custodywise? I have been married five years, and my husband and I are about to start the process of getting a divorce. Thankfully we don’t have children to fight over but we do have two yorkies that I had prior to us getting married which he now loves too. What happens to my fur babies and does it matter that they were mine before the marriage? I can’t bear the thought of losing them to him. Animal Lover in Birmingham
Dear Animal Lover: As a fellow dog lover and owner of three yorkies myself, I can totally understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately the laws of the state of Alabama aren’t as warm and fuzzy about our furry companions as we are and as such consider them property. This means that typically a judge will only grant them to one party or the other; however, all is not necessarily lost. First, if you can show ownership through receipts, registration, etc. prior to the marriage this should give you an advantage that most judges will consider when deciding who gets the dogs. Another option is something I’ve done on a few cases where we were able to work out a pet custody/visitation schedule and put it into their agreement. In those cases the judge allowed it to be submitted and honored as part of the agreement. You might have to give up a few more material things to sweeten the pot enough to convince your spouse to go along with it but an agreement is always a safer bet than waiting to see how a judge rules. Ask your potential lawyer in advance if she is familiar and comfortable with working out these types of arrangements so you will know if you even have the option should you hire her. Best of luck, I’m rooting for you!
Jennifer G. Rose is the founder and lead attorney at The Rose Law Firm LLC. One of only a handful of certified family law specialists in the state, Jennifer and her firm have won dozens of awards for their work in the field. Those wishing to reach her may call 205-323- 1124 24 hours a day or visit rosefamilylaw.com. Her firm gives complimentary initial consultations in person.
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