4 Ways Domestic Violence Can Affect Divorce — And How To Protect Yourself

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4 Ways Domestic Violence Can Affect Divorce — And How To Protect Yourself

Domestic violence affects nearly 24 people per minute in the United States — more than 12 million people over the course of a year.

It includes various types of abuse, such as physical, sexual, emotional, and mental abuse, and can heavily influence the outcome of a divorce case.

There are many laws in place to protect survivors of domestic abuse, including survivors who are also going through the process of divorce from their abuser.

RELATED: 8 Things Survivors Of Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse Needs To Know

If you or a loved one is seeking a divorce from an abusive partner, the divorce process will not be easy — but you can still protect yourself.

Here are 4 ways domestic violence can affect divorce.

1. Filing for divorce depends on your state.

In some states, "no-fault divorce" is the only option for divorcing couples, including those who are survivors of domestic abuse.

This means that you're unable to cite domestic violence as the reason for divorce. This said, evidence of domestic violence may be presented in the divorce proceedings, which can help build the survivor’s case.

In other states, such as Idaho, North Dakota, and Tennessee, a domestic violence survivor may be able to state the reason for divorce as "domestic violence" or "cruel treatment."

2. Child custody is almost always impacted.

Accusations and evidence of domestic violence can affect child custody arrangements.

According to domestic violence expert George H. Ramos, Jr., if a domestic violence incident involves child endangerment, Child Protective Services (CPS) may also get involved.

Evidence from the CPS case may influence the outcome of child custody during a divorce. If the abusive spouse showed violence in front of or towards a child, the abusive spouse is unlikely to gain custody of the child.

Even if the child did not witness the violence, the abusive spouse is at a disadvantage of receiving custody. In certain cases, a judge may strip the abusive spouse of all child custody, including visitations and, potentially, all parental rights.

Courts also have various methods to supervise custody given to an abusive parent, such as supervised visits and restrictions on overnight visitations.

A judge could also order that all child exchanges from one parent to the other be in public areas to help protect the abused spouse.

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3. The division of marital assets and estate is impacted.

When some courts decide how to divide marital assets and the estate, a spouse’s behavior comes into play.

Some states may award an abused spouse with more assets if an abusive spouse’ actions negatively impacted the abused spouse’s ability to work or maintain work.

4. You have the advantage in a divorce settlement.

The abused spouse has the advantage in many aspects of the divorce proceedings.

To further improve the case, it's recommended to speak with an experienced family law attorney to help navigate the complexities of a divorce. Many family law attorneys offer free consultations and can help you or a loved one explore their legal options.

Divorce can be difficult, especially when a spouse or child has been subject to domestic violence.

If you or a loved one is seeking a divorce from an abusive partner so you can leave your toxic and abusive relationship, it's important to understand how domestic violence can play a part in divorce proceedings.

This way, you'll also get the support you need to help yourself or your loved one feel encouraged and protected during this difficult time.

To learn more about signs of domestic violence and how to make a safety plan, please use the resources below or contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

RELATED: Why Domestic Violence Against Men Is Often Overlooked

Brian Beltz is the head writer at Divorce Help 360. He writes guides, offers advice, and explores trends and pitfalls for those affected by or interested in divorce.