According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly one-third of women and more than one-quarter of men in California have experienced partner violence or stalking.
If you are one of these victims and are ready to divorce an abusive husband or wife, you should know how domestic violence affects the legal process. This information can help you prepare and protect yourself.
It can make custody battles particularly heated.
A parent with an abusive history may still have parental rights, including the right to custody and visitation. As such, these matters can be incredibly difficult if there are fears about a child’s safety and well-being with the abusive parent.
There are a few critical pieces of evidence that can protect your child from an abusive parent. This includes police reports, witness statements and any other documented evidence of abuse. This information can be crucial in establishing what is in the child’s best interests.
Mediation may not be an option.
Abuse does not have to be physical or sexual to create complications during divorce. Emotional and financial abuse can involve elements of manipulation and control that make it difficult – or impossible – to find fair, cooperative solutions to divorce-related matters.
As such, mediation may not be an option when one party is domineering, controlling or distrustful. Of course, a mediator and your attorney can help a great deal in negotiating some matters with someone who can be like this. However, when such behaviors traits are to the level of abuse, court intervention may be the only way to obtain a fair outcome.
Victims may need extra protection.
If your safety is in danger when you are divorcing an abusive spouse, know that there are protections that you can put in place to keep your soon-to-be ex away.
One option is a restraining order. These orders legally prevent a party from coming near you. The court can also order that the restrained party surrender firearms, move out of your house, and stay away from your child’s school (if they are a protected party). Other options can be discussed confidentially with an attorney.
Ending any marriage is complicated; ending a marriage that involves an abusive or a violent party can be especially frightening and sensitive. As such, it is important to consult an attorney to discuss ways to protect yourself, your family and your future.