Man discussing his divorce and domestic violence accusations with attorney.

How Does Domestic Violence Affect a Divorce?

Divorce is complicated even under the best of circumstances. When other factors, such as domestic violence, are involved, things can feel overwhelming, fast. In some cases, domestic violence may have occurred in the past. Other times, there are recent incidents of domestic violence, which may have even been the cause of filing for divorce. In either case, domestic violence or a history of domestic violence will impact divorce proceedings.

The Impact Domestic Violence Has on a Divorce

First and foremost, take steps to protect yourself as you separate from an abusive partner. Having a spouse who was abusive, whether it be physically, emotionally, or in any other way can make separation difficult. There are Florida laws in place to protect against domestic violence and these protections should be accessed to the fullest extent possible. For example, you may get a protective order to help ensure your safety. To obtain the protective order, the court will need to determine whether you have reasonable cause in believing that you are in imminent danger of becoming, or of having been, a victim of domestic violence.

Since Florida is a no-fault divorce state, there is no need to assert domestic violence as grounds for divorce. Domestic violence will, however, play a big part in determining other issues related to divorce. This is especially true if you and your abusive spouse have minor children together. Domestic violence can become a key factor in the court deciding what is in the best interest of the child. Many times, a judge will decide that it is not in the best interest of the child to spend a significant amount of time with a parent who has a history of domestic violence. In fact, Florida law creates the presumption that if a parent has been convicted of first-degree domestic violence, that child is in danger when in the presence of that parent. The burden rests on the criminally convicted parent to overcome this burden. In some cases, the court may award full custody to the non-abusive parent. Furthermore, the court is empowered to impose restrictions on visitations for when the abusive parent is set to spend time with the child. Restrictions may include requiring court-approved supervision when visitation occurs.

In addition to child custody and visitation decisions, domestic violence, or a history thereof, may impact other important issues incident to divorce. For instance, domestic violence may come into play when deciding division of the assets as well as establishing spousal support. The court has a substantial amount of discretion in evaluating factors found to be relevant in determining these issues.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

When divorcing an abusive spouse, your safety and well-being are critical. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can help preserve your safety as well as help ensure your legal rights are protected. Your attorney can act as a go-between with your spouse in communicating issues related to the divorce. This means your interaction with them will be extremely limited. Your communications with your attorney are protected by privilege. Our dedicated team of family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to protect your best interests throughout the divorce process. Contact us today.