How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce
Sadly, domestic violence still impacts millions of Americans every year. While women and children are the most frequent victims, domestic violence can happen to anyone. Many states have enacted laws specifically to this problem in the divorce process, and in most cases the presence of domestic violence is a divorce will have serious consequences for the abuser.
Filing For Divorce
Because California is a “no-fault” divorce state, domestic violence and the blame for it cannot be used as the reason for filing for divorce. All divorces in California attach no blame to either spouse.
However, spouses that are victims of domestic violence will absolutely be able to introduce evidence of abuse during the divorce process, and it will carry the same weight as it would in any other state.
Child Custody And Domestic Violence
Evidence of domestic violence is almost certain to have a significant impact on child custody in a divorce case. If the abuser has been violent to their children directly, or to their spouse in view of their children, that spouse’s chance of getting custody drops drastically.
Evidence of abuse is often the key factor in persuading a court to deny custody, but it isn’t the only factor a judge will consider. Courts also have a wide range of powers to help protect domestic violence victims from their abusive spouse/parent during the divorce process.
In extreme cases, a court may terminate the abuser’s visitation altogether and award full custody to the other parent. In cases where the abusive parent has caused serious injury to a child, a judge may order a permanent termination of the abuser’s parental rights.
Division Of Assets And Alimony
The division of assets and alimony are where victims of domestic violence will often see the biggest impact in the divorce process. From a punitive standpoint this is where courts will often award a larger share of assets and higher alimony to abuse victims than they would in a divorce with no domestic violence present.
This is especially true if there is evidence that the abuse prevented the victim from obtaining employment or caused them to have to quit their job due to mental and/or physical abuse.
Finding The Right Attorney
Not all divorce attorneys are a good fit for victims of domestic violence. It’s important that the attorney you choose is both experienced in working with domestic violence divorce cases, but also sensitive to the needs of clients that may have trouble handling the process and facing their abuser.
When you do choose an attorney, make sure they understand your situation completely and that they take the time to listen to your story and are fully invested in helping you throughout the divorce process.
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