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Special Considerations for Divorces Involving Domestic Violence

Getting out of a bad marriage is not as easy as it often looks and sounds from the outside. There are a lot of significant and difficult adjustments that must be made to go from married to single, even when the split is amicable and mutual. When one spouse is against, or actively fights, a divorce, leaving becomes even more complicated. If violence is a component in the relationship, leaving can feel almost impossible, and extra precautions need to be taken, both in exiting the marital home and how the divorce is handled. Working with a divorce attorney in a situation involving violence is imperative to protecting one’s interests and navigating the legal process in a safe manner.

A support group for divorced individuals is starting in Noblesville this month and is designed to help them work through the pain and loneliness of this transition. Abused spouses seeking divorce should not go it alone, and a discussion of the unique issues that impact the divorce process with abusive marriages will follow below.

Why Leaving is So Hard

Studies performed to analyze the dynamics of abusive relationships have consistently found the abuser takes specific steps to make it more difficult for the abused spouse to leave. This typically manifests as cutting him/her off from family and friends so there is no support system to facilitate ending the relationship. The abuser may also restrict or forbid the victim from working outside the home, meaning he/she has no financial means to fix the predicament. Women’s shelters and domestic violence groups try to fill this gap, and many victims are able to get some help from family and friends, but being able to successfully leave usually requires the victim to have a plan about where he/she will go and how money will be earned.

No-Contact or Protection Orders

One of the first and most essential actions a victim of domestic abuse must take when seeking to end the relationship is to file for a protection order, which can be done directly with the Circuit Court Clerk in the county where the person lives, or through a victims’ advocate organization. This court order, which is first issued as an emergency temporary measure, effectively imposes a no-contact rule on the abuser and prohibits him/her from communicating with the victim in any way, going to the victim’s place of work or school, or living in the family home. In addition, these orders also often include provisions for child custody and child support, where appropriate. A full hearing will be held to determine if the protection order should become permanent, and they generally are in effect for two years. Violating this order subjects the abuser to arrest, jail time, and other criminal penalties.

Influence on Property Division and Child Custody

Two things domestic violence survivors are concerned about when leaving an abusive relationship is how to support themselves and how to protect their children from harm. Domestic violence is a major issue in child custody matters, and convictions for this behavior almost always result in supervised visitation for the abuser. If no conviction occurred, the court will look at all the factors used to evaluate the best interests of the child, and the abusive spouse could get some amount of custody and visitation. This outcome highlights why an experienced divorce attorney is so important to securing an appropriate outcome.

In addition, property division is based on fairness or equity, and if the abusive spouse kept control of the family finances and/or prevented the other spouse from working, the court is likely to use this information to justify giving the victim a greater share of the marital assets to help them move forward.

Ask for Legal Assistance

Abusive marriages need to end, but knowing the best way to seek divorce in this situation is not straightforward. Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. understands the difficulties you are facing and will work to get you the best possible outcome, including protecting your family from further harm. Contact the Avon divorce attorney today at (317) 745-4494 to schedule an appointment.

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