3.5 Ways to Keep Yourself Safe During a Divorce

Earlier this week, Catherine Scott-Gonzalez’ husband attacked her while in the Judge’s chambers in Broward County, Florida. They were at the courthouse for their final divorce hearing, and the husband became angry when the Judge said he would be ordered to pay child support.

It is not surprising to hear of violence occurring during a divorce. It is, of course, unusual to have violence erupt during a court proceeding. The most surprising aspect of the story, however, is that there was not a bailiff or deputy in the room.

This story sends a loud message that during a divorce, you have to keep yourself safe, even in the courthouse.

Apparently, Broward County does not automatically assign a deputy to every Judge. The Judge is responsible for notifying the Sheriff’s Office if they want a deputy. Furthermore, after the incident, the Sheriff’s Office representative said they have no plans to change their policy.

Here are 3.5 ways to keep yourself safe during a divorce:

  1. Don’t assume that your attorney knows of the safety risk. Divorces are extremely emotional, and it is not uncommon to have threats made. Furthermore, many times clients do not even mention the threats or describe their fears. If you have an injunction/restraining order, ask your attorney if your contact information can be kept confidential in the divorce court file.
  2. Don’t assume that the Judge knows of the safety risk. With huge caseloads, the Judge hasn’t necessarily read what information you have included in the documents you filed with the court. Even if you have attempted to obtain an injunction or restraining order, the Judge may not have been notified.
  3. Discuss your safety plan with your attorney. If you have a fear for your safety, don’t just mention it to your attorney, and hope that the attorney then takes care of everything. Before any meeting with the person you are afraid of, you need to discuss with your attorney the steps that will be taken to protect you. Ask if the building requires all guests to go through security, and especially a metal detector. Ask to have a bailiff or deputy in the courtroom. Ask where the closest exits are to the hearing room. Ask if someone is available to escort you from the building. If you have an injunction/restraining order, make sure it is with you.

 3.5 Make sure you notify friends and family that you have a court hearing for your divorce, where you will be, and what time they can expect to hear from you after the hearing.


     Posted on April 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm | No comment

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