The Impact of Domestic Violence on Divorce Proceedings

While many divorces are messy, relationships with an underlying history of domestic violence are often the most contentious and acrimonious when they come to an end. Sometimes, domestic violence alone is the impetus for a divorce, while in others it is simply a symptom of a relationship that is unhealthy in other ways as well. While most people understand that domestic violence is wrong and against the law, few people stop to think about the impact that it may have on a divorce.

In situations where domestic violence is actively happening, victims should ensure they are safe by physically leaving the relationship and going to a safe place. An attorney can help ensure your safety by filing for an order of protection that can keep an abuser from stalking or contacting you. Since Florida is a “no fault divorce” state, the existence of absence of domestic violence is immaterial to whether you can file for divorce. It is relevant, however, for other issues that may be decided in a divorce proceeding. Because of the importance of these issues, anyone considering ending a marriage in which domestic violence occurred should talk to Boca Raton divorce attorney immediately.

Child Custody

An established history of domestic abuse can significantly affect a court’s child custody determination. The general principle by which courts operate in determining child custody is determining what is in the child’s best interests. While the default position in child custody cases is that both parents shall share parenting responsibilities, courts may consider various factors in awarding child custody. In most cases, a history of domestic violence perpetrated by one spouse on the other or against any children will be an important factor weighed by the courts. In fact, the Florida child custody statute imposes a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child if there is evidence that a parent has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence in the 1st degree or higher. This means that it will be presumed by the court that the convicted parent should not have custody unless he or she can show evidence that it would not be to the detriment of the child. This can be a difficult burden to meet, and people who have a criminal record involving domestic violence who are seeking child custody should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Division of Marital Assets

Similar to the starting point in considering child custody matters, Florida law requires a court considering the distribution of marital property in a divorce case to start from the premise that the distribution should be equal. Again, courts have the discretion to consider a variety of factors when making the final determination regarding how the assets will be distributed. While domestic violence is not specifically addressed by the statute, it does allow courts to consider “all other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.” A skilled Boca Raton divorce lawyer may be able to establish that domestic violence is a factor warranting an unequal distribution of assets in favor of the abused spouse.

Contact a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Today

Alan Burton is a dedicated family law attorney that practices in the Boca Raton area, and is committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for each client he represents. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Burton, call (954) 229-1660 or his cell at (954) 295-9222.

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