She don't have to. But many factors determines child custody. That's why its a dream life. Its not easy to get full custody with no visitation rights in USA unless court order that way. US court is most likely to give joint custody. Otherwise OP has to prove that he is a threat and its best for children's interest. Kids age is also a factor. I am sure OP's husband is not going to give up child custody from his behavior mentioned in the post. Its better to consult an attorney and collect legal evidence against him. As OP is financially independent, she can prove that she can provide a comfortable home. In some states, separation is needed before filing divorce, but in some other states you can even stay in the same home and file divorce. Also, its not a good idea to move out till everything is clear. I am against any kind of abuse. Here kids, love him for whatever reasons. He is their father, no court can deny that. I wish OP to get her dream life. More strength to her.