Many divorce cases often involve domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as abuse by one partner that is directed towards the other in a marriage or other intimate relationship. Domestic violence can complicate divorce as it brings together the overlapping fields of family law and criminal law. The purpose of this article is to show how domestic violence can affect divorce cases. A divorce lawyer with a background in family law and criminal law can help couples navigate divorce when domestic violence is involved.
Domestic Violence in Divorce Cases
The legal definitions for domestic violence can vary by state. However, Colorado law defines domestic violence in C.R.S. 18-6-800.3 as “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” Domestic violence can also include “any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”
Allegations and charges of domestic violence can make divorce, which is already a difficult and complicated process, even more challenging. Domestic violence can affect the outcome of the divorce proceedings. Custody of any children, visitation rights with children, alimony, and child support payments can all be affected by domestic violence in divorce.
Domestic Violence in Child Custody Cases
Child custody and child support payments are often part of divorce cases. Domestic violence can complicate child custody, child support payments, & child visitations. If the two parties in the divorce cannot decide on a child custody arrangement, the courts will decide for them. Colorado judges typically determine custody arrangements by considering what is in the child or children’s best interest. If a parent has abused a child or the other parent, this will be taken into consideration by the judge. This doesn’t mean that the parent with a domestic violence allegation or even domestic violence charge will be denied custody; the court seeks to promote the child’s best well-being and believes that children benefit from seeing both of their parents. So, while domestic violence factors into the custody decision, in many cases, it is not the deciding factor.
Domestic Violence & Alimony (Spousal Maintenance)
Alimony, now known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is often part of the result in a divorce case. Alimony is typically determined either by a mathematical formula (if the parties’ combined income is less than $75,000 a year) or by the judge. Domestic violence can complicate alimony payments and alimony in general. In awarding alimony, judges consider the duration of the marriage, sources of income and standards of living of the spouses, and contributions of each spouse to the marriage. Therefore, a spouse who has been convicted or alleged of domestic violence may not be able to collect alimony in many cases.
Proof of Domestic Violence in Divorce
Colorado is a “no-fault state” for divorce which means that fault is not required to file for divorce, so one party does not have to prove that the other party did something wrong. However, it is still possible to obtain a fault divorce, e.g., on the grounds of domestic violence, but evidence is required. A lawyer can help provide proof of domestic violence in divorce, such as law enforcement records, restraining orders, and so on.
Domestic Violence: Protecting Rights & Avoiding Abuse in Divorce
Divorce is a very stressful time in a family’s life and may not even resolve the emotional abuse inflicted by one party on the other. Divorcing an abusive spouse can even trigger further abuse. Survivors of domestic violence may benefit from contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Parties undergoing divorce with domestic violence must take measures to protect themselves, their families, any children, and all persons involved in a divorce case with proven or alleged domestic violence. Those who are divorcing a violent spouse should leave the house and take their children with them, unless court orders direct them to do otherwise. Leaving one’s house without what the courts would consider to be a good reason may affect the awarding of alimony. This is why consulting with a divorce with domestic violence lawyer is essential. Many divorce with domestic violence lawyers offer free consultations which can be helpful for a survivor who is experiencing financial abuse, for example, and may not have a lot of money.
Importance of Divorce Lawyers in Cases with Domestic Violence
An experienced family and domestic violence attorney is crucial. A lawyer can help ensure that the process of divorce involving domestic violence is conducted properly from the start of the process to the signing of the divorce papers. Thomas Ramunda of South Denver Law is a domestic violence defense attorney practicing in Denver, CO and Parker, CO that can help families navigate through domestic violence in the divorce process as best as possible.