Millions of Americans suffer from domestic violence each year and every state has issued laws to protect domestic violence victims in order to combat these numbers. Specifically, many laws address how divorces may be affected by evidence of domestic violence. While you cannot file for divorce solely on the grounds of abuse, you can use evidence of abuse to strengthen your divorce case. Some states categorize abuse as “domestic violence” and others refer to the term “cruel treatment,” which includes mental and physical harm, when filing for divorce.
Child Custody Decisions and Evidence of Domestic Violence
Child Custody is almost always impacted by evidence of domestic abuse. The spouse accused of abuse is much less likely to receive custody. Usually the abuse affects custody decisions regardless if the child was aware of it or not.
The court’s primary concern is the best interest of the child and they will use various methods to protect children from an abusive situation. There can be orders of supervised visits and restrictions of overnight visits and the judge can even order that visitation occur in a public place. If you are afraid that you or your child may be in danger, it is imperative to tell the court and ask for protective measures. A court may terminate visitation altogether if the case is extreme and the victimized spouse may retain full custody. If an abusive parent has caused serious harm to a child, then it is possible for their parental rights may be permanently terminated.
Dividing the Marital Assets and Discussing Finances
Sometimes a judge will award a larger estate to a spouse that has been abused, especially if the abuse impacted the financial situation, like if the victim was unable to maintain a job. Domestic abuse evidence also impacts alimony payments if an abusive spouse harms their victim financially, such as not allowing them to work during the marriage which leaves them financially dependent on the abusive spouse. It is likely that a situation like this will result in alimony payments. Some courts may even discuss alimony when it hasn’t affected a spouse’s ability to work.
If you have had an abusive spouse, then you may be able to reach an advantageous divorce settlement–especially if the spouse wishes to keep word of the abuse out of public knowledge. You may have the upper hand in much of the divorce proceeding and are more likely to get favorable judgments cast your way.
A divorce can be one of the most stressful and straining aspects of your life. Now add in factors like domestic abuse of you or your child. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer, like a domestic violence lawyer Salt Lake City, UT turns to, to assist you on this difficult journey. While it may seem the judge will act favorably, it is best to hire a professional who can help you protect you and your children on the face of abuse and assure that the judge will be made aware of this abuse and put protections on your case.
Thank you to Rasmussen & Miner for providing their insight on domestic violence.