Can domestic violence impact my divorce?

Tragically, physical, emotional, and financial abuse is part of many California marriages. When a spouse decides that they have had enough of the turmoil within their marriage, they may file for divorce to end the relationship once and for all. While California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you may cite irreconcilable differences as the reason or your divorce without having to establish that one spouse’s actions caused the end of your marriage, domestic violence can still play a role in your divorce.

Domestic violence may impact various aspects of divorce

If there is evidence of domestic violence in the home, the court will focus on doing whatever is in the best interest of the spouse who is being abused and the children involved, if any. California courts may:

  • Avoid granting spousal support to the abuser, regardless of their financial situation. Generally, a felony domestic violence conviction within five years will ban the abuser from receiving alimony, while a misdemeanor conviction will create a rebuttable presumption against granting the abuser alimony.
  • Avoid granting custody of the children to the abuser, even if the children were not abused.
  • Order abuser to forfeit property if abuse financially impacted other spouse (e.g., medical bills, inability to work).

If domestic violence was present in your household, it is important to seek assistance from a family law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help gather evidence to prove the domestic violence and ensure that your abuser is not rewarded in the divorce.