Q: My boyfriend is an addict with a history of domestic violence in previous relationship. Can I take our 2 kids and leave?
I will move 45 miles away to my mothers home. What steps should I take to protect myself and my children and my mother from possible retaliation? I want to know for sure that he can't use my children to manipulate and control me after I get away from him. I'm poor and I have no financial means for a lawyer.
A: If you have no court order governing custody, you can do whatever is reasonable under the circumstances. However the father has equal rights, so you will need to get a court order. If there has been domestic violence, then you should get a restraining order. This is something you can do without a lawyer, as the courts have a simplified process for that type of case. There are forms for you to use and the court clerks are generally very helpful. The DV court can grant custody if it seems appropriate. However, you should be aware that the father can file a custody case and get a more thorough review of the custody decision. As long as everything you do is to protect and provide for the children, and you don't appear to just be trying to cut the kids off from their father, you should be ok. If you get custody under a DV restraining order, you should make some efforts to set up visitation with the father. If it would only be safe if supervised, then ask the court to order supervised visitation.
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