Though not everyone is comfortable talking about it, domestic violence directly affects an estimated four million people every year, the overwhelming majority of these people women, and the lives of millions more people are impacted by a loved one’s abuse. Far too often, instances of domestic violence in Los Angeles occur between spouses, many times when there are children in the house, and this type of abuse often leads to or stems from a divorce action. If you are the victim of domestic violence in California or you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, and you are seeking a divorce, our experienced family law attorneys can help. Contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 to discuss your case with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney.
Affordable Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
Family law and criminal law are two very different areas of the law, but there are some instances in which they overlap, including cases where a victim of domestic violence or a spouse falsely accused of domestic violence files for divorce. In such cases, it is important that you have an attorney on your side to represent your interests in court and to build a strong case on your behalf, taking into account all the facts. Whether your abuse was triggered by your decision to file for divorce or you are seeking divorce as a means of escaping an abusive relationship, our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles can help. Filing for divorce amid claims of domestic violence can be challenging and this type of case requires the delicate hand of a knowledgeable family law lawyer. Our legal team has extensive experience protecting the safety and legal rights of domestic violence victims in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, and we will work tirelessly to help you reach a favorable outcome in your case.
Domestic Violence and Divorce in California
Domestic violence is the abuse of one partner against the other in a marriage or other type of intimate relationship, and often, this type of abuse is what ends a marriage. According to research, two-thirds of all marriages in the United States are affected by at least once occurrence of domestic violence, and while this type of violence can affect anyone, approximately 95% of all victims of domestic violence are women. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (California Family Code § 6200), there are many different types of abuse that can be prosecuted as domestic violence, including pushing, hitting, sexual assault and other types of physical abuse, stalking, intimidation, isolating a partner from others, child endangerment and emotional abuse of any kind.
Although committing acts of domestic violence against a spouse is unconscionable, California is a no-fault divorce state, which means proof of misconduct has no bearing on the court’s decision to grant a divorce between two spouses. However, there are some instances where a spouse’s misconduct can affect other decisions, like alimony or spousal support, namely a domestic violence conviction. Under California law, when a spouse has been convicted of abuse against the other spouse within the previous five years, the law presumes that the convicted spouse should not receive spousal support. The law also states that if a parent who is seeking custody of a child is found to have committed domestic violence against the other parent or the child, that parent should not receive joint or sole legal or physical custody of the child.
A domestic violence conviction can also have an impact on the division of property in a couple’s California divorce proceedings, especially if the court has reason to believe that the abuse played a role in the failure of the marriage. California is a community property state, which means any assets or property acquired by the couple in marriage belong equally to both spouses and must be divided equally in divorce. However, it could be argued that the acts of domestic violence had an adverse economic impact on the abused spouse, perhaps in the form of costly medical bills or a loss of earning potential, in which case the spouse who suffered the abuse could be awarded a greater portion of the marital assets in divorce.
The Process of Divorcing an Abusive Spouse
If you are in an abusive marriage, there are a number of issues you have to consider once you decide to file for divorce, especially if there are children involved. There are laws in place in California and across the United States that provide legal protections for abused spouses and their children in the event of a divorce. In fact, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have legal statutes in place that require courts to consider domestic abuse perpetrated by one parent against the other when resolving child custody or visitation disputes between parents. In some cases, victims of domestic violence in Los Angeles can get a court order that gives them temporary custody of their children and prohibits their spouse from coming near them for a period of time determined by the court. In the state of California, this so-called restraining order can include many different provisions, including a no-contact provision, a move-out provision, a counseling provision or a firearms provision. If you have a restraining order against your spouse, and he or she violates the order, you can notify the police and have him or her arrested. However, even a parent who the court finds abused the other parent may still be awarded some form of child custody if the abusive parent has:
- Complied with any terms of parole or probation;
- Completed a treatment program;
- Complied with the terms of any restraining order;
- Completed a drug or alcohol program, if applicable; and
- It is found to be in the best interests of the children for the parent to share custody.
How an Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
There are new protections being introduced into California family law that are meant to help victims of domestic violence, but it can still be dangerous for victims to present claims of domestic violence in family court. Whether you are filing for divorce or seeking a restraining order against an abusive spouse, it pays dividends to have an attorney on your side who will represent your best interests in court and advise you of all your options under California law. For instance, our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles might counsel you to keep careful records of each instance of domestic violence to present in court, as this type of documentation can strengthen your case and dramatically improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome, especially if you are seeking protection from the court.
Suffering domestic violence at the hands of your spouse can be humiliating and terrifying, and dealing with the legal and social implications of filing for divorce on top of the physical and emotional effects of your abuse will be no easy task, that’s for certain. However, the most important step a victim of domestic abuse in California can do is find the courage to take action against his or her abuser, and that includes hiring an attorney and filing for divorce.
Free Domestic Violence Consultation in Los Angeles
Being a victim of domestic violence may make you feel afraid, alone and powerless, but you have the right to protection in California. If your spouse is violent and you fear for your safety, don’t hesitate to get help. Call the police, if necessary, or contact the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services. The danger of serious violence is often at its highest when an abuse victim attempts to end or leave the relationship. Once you and your children are safe from harm, contact our domestic violence attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles to discuss your best course of action for filing for divorce. You don’t need an attorney to file for divorce, but it’s always a good idea to have qualified legal representation when seeking divorce amid allegations of domestic violence, especially if child custody, child support or spousal support are at issue.