How Domestic Violence May Affect Your Divorce Strategy
Domestic violence and divorce cases continue to rise every year and have affected millions of American households.
So, how does domestic violence affect a divorce case?
With the adoption of no-fault divorce rule by the 50 states—for purposes of stopping spouses’ to commit deliberate perjury, collusion, and fraud to severe their marriage, there is a slim chance that the court will hear and try an innocent spouse’s petition for divorce based on domestic violence.
This permits married couples to file for divorce without blaming the other for the termination of their marriage. The only grounds available for no-fault divorce are irreconcilable differences or an irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
However, current development reveals that lawmakers in each state were now enacting laws on how to address the process of separation and divorce when there is domestic violence.
Also, lawmakers are enacting laws to relax this rule, particularly, when the court is rendering domestic violence and divorce decisions.
In this post, we will discuss how a spouse’s domestic violence may affect divorce strategy, so stick around!
Domestic violence and allegations
When one spouse becomes a victim of abuse they need every evidence within their reach, like police incident report, etc, to prove validly their allegations written in the petition.
Bringing the matter to the police authorities is one way of getting legal protection. Also, this serves as a deterrence against the guilty spouse not to commit the same violence in the future.
However, there are times that such evidence is not available due to spouses’ refusal to bring the matter to the law-enforcement authorities. As this, in some way, could have assisted the abused on their claims.
The other recourse for the abused spouse is to seek immediate assistance from a domestic violence attorney. The lawyer can seek a restraining order from the Family Court against the guilty spouse—disallowing the accused to get near the spouse and/or children.
Doing this will strengthen the allegations against the accused, and the particular copy of the order can serve as a record of the situation. Besides, a violation of the order will penalize the abusive spouse and may put them under arrest for committing contemptuous acts.
Moreover, many spouses who suffered from domestic violence are not aware of the grant of Family Court’s legal aid and financial support, which is given to abused spouses and their children.
But before they can avail such privilege, they need to prove their claim for domestic violence by presenting sufficient hard evidence, such as a criminal conviction, civil injunction or a letter from social services.
However, if the assault and violence are already unbearable, the abused spouse and children should leave their conjugal home as quickly as possible. They may contact their friends and relatives, arrange transfer and seek a brief stay.
They’re encouraged to find a domestic violence resource center such as organizations working to stop domestic violence and aid victims, including the U.S. Justice Department’s Family Violence Program, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and others.
Child custody and alimony
Usually, children are caught in the middle when one spouse files a petition for divorce based on domestic violence. Then the issue of child custody arises.
As such, the court will determine who between the two parents will be granted custody: the purported abuser, the victim or both.
The court’s ultimate guide when deciding a child custody case should always be based on the “best interest of the child”. In short, the child’s welfare and safety are of utmost importance.
Domestic abuse has a great impact on the innocent spouse, especially when the abusive spouse financially deprives them in ways like controlling the victim’s right to acquire, use and maintain financial resources.
Also, the abused may be prevented from working, own money or restrict them from having access to money and other support.
Other instances could be money owned by them was stolen by an abusive spouse or forced to account for every penny spent. In this instance, the court will decide in favor of the abused spouse’s claim for alimony, including child support.
In some jurisdictions, the court may take into consideration domestic violence and divorce in deciding alimony, but it does not affect the abused spouse’s earning capacity.
However, the award of alimony depends, since there are states that provide specific guidelines to judges as to the award of amount and duration of alimony.
Some states allow court judges to freely exercise their discretion in awarding an equitable amount of alimony and a reasonable period of duration.
Also watch: 7 Most Common Reasons for Divorce
Division of marital estate
When it comes to the division of the spouses’ marital estate, the courts in most states examine spouses’ behavior during their cohabitation.
Thus, it may serve as a basis for whether or not to award a larger share to the innocent spouse. Especially, if the abusive spouse negatively affected their finances—like when they prevented the abused spouse to remain employed.
With the domestic violence and divorce cases on the rise, you don’t have to become paranoid. But, it is good to stay vigilant and aware of the laws and legal proceedings.
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