Filing for divorce from an abusive spouse is a courageous decision that often takes careful planning. Just because a divorce was filed, however, does not guarantee that your abusive spouse will never attempt to harm you again. If you or your children are in danger because of your former partner, there are steps you can take to keep your contact information safe and confidential so that your abuser cannot find you.
Confidential Information During Divorce
During a divorce, each party is required to provide certain information to the court. But during a case involving domestic violence and abuse, you do not have to disclose certain information. This includes your current residence and employment information. This information includes an address where you can receive service of the other party’s court documents. It does become public, so if you are afraid for your safety be cautious about what address you choose.
The person who is filing the Confidential Information Form has the ability to provide an explanation to the court as to why certain information should be kept confidential. If the judge agrees with the explanation, then this information can be kept out of the case.
Address Confidentiality Program
In addition, the address provided in the Confidential Information Form does not have to be a person’s residence, only a place where he or she can receive mail. This address could be a post office box, an attorney’s office, or any other place where the victim of abuse can safely go.
In the State of Washington, the office of the Secretary of State provides a program for the victims of criminal violence or domestic abuse called the Address Confidentiality Program (AC). This program provides victims with an address that can be used in place of their residence. Mail that comes to that address is repackaged and forwarded to the victim’s new home so that their abuser cannot track them through their mail. This same address can be used during a divorce case in order to keep a person’s information secret.
In addition, the ACP allows the victim to register to vote or obtain a marriage license with his or her contact information being made a part of the public record.
Getting Help After Abuse
Keeping yourself and your children safe after leaving an abusive spouse is your first priority. If you believe that your former spouse may pose a danger, always protect yourself by filing a police report, a restraining order, or taking steps to ensure that your location remains secret.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we take your safety seriously, and will help you understand your options when it comes to hiding your contact information during your divorce. To learn more about how our attorneys can help, call 509-572-3700 to schedule your appointment today.