My wife is constantly abusive towards me and I feel I need to leave the house as soon as possible. However, I do not want to leave my children behind.
Should I move out and take my kids with me? What are the legal ramifications of doing so?
First, I am licensed to practice law in the state of Pennsylvania and I am not sure if this information will be applicable to your state, so I urge you to seek a consultation with local counsel.
In Pennsylvania, if you are being abused and are in fear of imminent danger from your spouse, you can file a protection from abuse petition on behalf of yourself, or on behalf of yourself and your children. A hearing will be held within 10 days to establish a final order, but an interim order will be issued that can grant you custody, exclusive possession of the marital residence and temporary relief from abuse.
In the alternative, I would suggest to file for custody of your children prior to leaving the marital residence so that a custody order for physical and legal custody would be in place prior to either party leaving the marital residence. If you choose to vacate the marital residence without first obtaining a custody order, you could lose a great amount of leverage in custody negotiations.
If you do choose to leave prior to a custody order being established, ensure that you have proper accommodations for your children to stay with you, including separate bedrooms, and choose a residence in the current school district in which the children currently attend.
Also, if you choose to leave the marital residence with the children, your spouse could file a custody complaint immediately and ask the court to establish an interim custody schedule pending a final order.
Again, I am a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and the procedures and statutes for such actions may not be the same in your state. Please consult local counsel for a more directed response and advice applicable to your jurisdiction.