I will start with some pretty heavy statistics to show the seriousness of the issue. Studies show that violence occurs at least once in two-thirds of all marriages. Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. Roughly 40% of all physically abused children also have witnessed physical violence between their parents. Spousal abuse is an important issue that needs to be talked about. Moreover, it has some effects on your divorce.
It is important to note, that many children, who are abused or who witness abuse of a parent, grow up to become abusive themselves. In some cases, they grow up to become victims in violent relationships. We learn what we see. When parents of a child are in an abusive relationship it creates an image for them of what love looks like. And the cycle continues.
So what is domestic violence? It is defined as abuse by one partner against the other in a marriage or other intimate relationship. Pushing, shoving, hitting, sexual assault, and other forms of physical attack are all forms of domestic abuse. Don’t forget about stalking, intimidation, isolating a partner from others, withholding money, and emotional abuse of all kinds. Those are forms of spousal support too.
The hardest part of spousal support is when the time comes for divorce. It is very triggering for domestic violence. Frankly, the danger of serious violence is at its highest point when a person acts o a decision to leave an abusive relationship. And of course, spousal abuse affects divorce, especially the emotional aspect of divorce. Usually, it becomes hard not to feel angry and offended of your spouse for abusing you. And usually, it becomes hard not to feel ashamed about being abused. And people start wondering why they have been putting up with it for so long.
But let’s talk about the legal aspect of divorce being affected by spousal abuse. It is up to you and your divorce attorney since there are two modes of divorce: no-fault and fault.
Abuse has no legal place in no-fault divorce. From a legal perspective, the fact that there is a history of abuse is irrelevant in the actual filing of the divorce. So when you file for a no-fault divorce you indicate that the divorce is necessary for conflicting differences. And that means that it is no one’s fault. However, fault comes into play when deciding the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, the award of alimony and determination of parental responsibilities.
Division of marital estate
In some states, the courts take into consideration a spouse’s behavior during the marriage when deciding how to divide the marital estate. And usually, the abused spouse gets a larger share of the marital estate. This is the case, particularly if the abuser negatively impacted the couple’s finances. Imagine, if because of the abuse, the abused spouse was not able to maintain employment. In this situation, a court could award the abused spouse a larger share of the marital estate.
Spousal abuse and alimony
Usually, spousal abuse can affect alimony when an abusive spouse harms the other spouse financially. Let me paint you a picture. Jane and Jack and married. Jane is the abuser in the relationship. She tries to control her spouse by not allowing him to work. And that makes Jack financially dependent on Jane. In cases like this, a judge is likely to award the abused spouse alimony. And in some jurisdictions, the court can consider domestic abuse when deciding alimony, even if it has not affected the abused spouse’s employability.
Can the abuser spouse gain child custody?
You probably know that evidence of domestic violence almost always impacts child custody. It is obvious, that if a spouse is abusive to a child or to the other spouse in front of the child, that spouse is less likely to gain custody of the children. And in most jurisdictions, it does not matter if the abuse occurs without the children’s knowledge. Their chances of getting child custody still suffer. So, it is usually a great idea to gather evidence of the abuser parent’s behavior. It can help sway the court in your favor when it determines custody.
Courts also apply different measures to protect children from abusive parents. They can order a professional to supervise all visitation periods and prohibit overnight visitation. And if there is a need of protecting the abused parent, the judge can order that all exchanges of children take place in a public place. And if the case is very extreme, a court can terminate the abuser’s visitation altogether. The other parent will gain full custody of the children.
What about false allegations?
False claims of spousal abuse are frequently made, particularly in situations where divorce is imminent. The judge in the custody or divorce matter may want to await the outcome of any pending criminal charges before making a custody decision. There are several outcomes to cases like these. If you are in a situation like this, the best chances of achieving a favorable outcome are when you have an experienced attorney with you. And in case the allegations were false, you need to know what are your visitation rights.
It is true that a victim’s rights in a divorce with spousal abuse may not always be clear. The wise thing to do is find a divorce lawyer that knows what needs to be done. Your attorney’s expertise will ensure you remain safe and get what you deserve in a divorce settlement. Margarian Law Firm has the best divorce lawyers that will make sure your rights are protected.