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Tips for documenting domestic violence

Domestic violence is central to your divorce case. You do not think you are safe in the home. You do not think the children are. You want to end the relationship and get out as quickly as possible.

In today's world, you're not worried about proving that you deserve the divorce. California uses no fault divorce laws.

Even so, the domestic violence will play a role. You do not want to share custody with your ex. You do not want him or her to get visitation rights. You're trying to protect the children, and you need to cut off all contact.

That's where things can get difficult. Courts err on the side of keeping both parents involved. You need to prove that you deserve sole custody and that the children need protection. To avoid a he-said, she-said court case with your ex, you must have evidence and documentation on your side.

1. Talk to witnesses

Did a friend, neighbor or family member witness abuse? Even if it was not physical abuse, having someone testify that your spouse was verbally abusive or that the two of you seemed to have a toxic relationship can help.

2. Take pictures and date them

Black eyes fade. Cuts and bruises heal. Even broken bones get better in a matter of weeks or months. Take photos of any injuries you or the children suffer. Date those pictures. Store them in a safe place. When it comes to domestic violence divorce cases, a picture really is a worth a thousand words.

3. Get medical records

Your ex may dispute your injury claims, even with photos. Having medical records can back up your side of the story. They show the true extent of the injury, the costs, the treatment you needed and much more. A doctor may even be able to help show how the injury occurred -- testifying that it was caused by blunt force trauma, for instance, as if someone struck you.

4. Write down any events in a journal

This journal should contain dates and as many details as possible. This helps you keep an accurate record right after the event, so you do not forget anything. It also backs up those dated photos. Write down everything, from arguments to physical abuse.

5. Get police reports

Police reports not only show that you called the authorities, but they provide a third-party report of the scene. Police may report your injuries, the children's injuries, the way your spouse was acting and the state of your home or apartment.

The key is to understand the legal process and to gather as much information as you can. It all builds on itself, and it can help you create the positive future you want for your children.

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Mohajer Law Firm, APC

Mohajer Law Firm, APC
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