Spousal support in the context of domestic violence

As a victim of domestic violence in California, having to pay spousal support to your one-time abuser after your divorce would add insult to injury. However, we at Christy, Keith & Donnell Family Law Group assure you that the court will likely not require that of you. The California Family Code recently went through some changes that took effect on January 1st. According to section 4325, there is now a rebuttable presumption that a spouse convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor cannot collect spousal support from the injured spouse if the court entered the conviction within five years of the dissolution proceeding.

Depending on the facts of the case, the court may also award you interest in community-held pension benefits or retirement plans up to 100%. You will usually not have to pay attorney fees for your ex-spouse out of your separate property, although community assets may go toward paying both parties’ attorney fees.

It is not impossible that the court might require you to pay spousal support to your erstwhile abuser, but your ex will have to produce concrete and convincing evidence as a rebuttal. For example, if your ex-spouse can produce documented evidence of you perpetrating domestic violence against him or her, the court will take that into consideration, and it could prove sufficient to rebut the presumption. However, only with a preponderance of evidence could the court order you to pay spousal support.

The date of separation is the time at which spouses decide to discontinue the marriage. At that point, their earnings are no longer community property. You can request that the court change the date of separation to the date of the incident that gave rise to your ex-spouse’s conviction on a domestic violence misdemeanor. More information about domestic violence and divorce is available on our website.