Does Past Incidents of Domestic Violence Affect Spousal Support Outcome?

If you live in a no-fault state, this means it isn’t required for your spouse to have done something wrong in order to divorce them. All that has to happen is one spouse files a petition to the court for a divorce, the other is notified, and then the process proceeds. Of course, divorce isn’t quite as simple as that, but the point is that it’s easy to get the process going if one or both spouses are unhappy in the marriage and want to part ways.

If one spouse suffered from domestic violence during the marriage, they may wonder whether this will have an impact on the outcome of spousal support if they choose to pursue this financial resource. Divorcing from a spouse who has a history of violence can be scary, and it often takes victims many years and attempts to finally free themselves from their abuser’s grasp. This article will talk about how domestic violence may influence the judge’s decision about spousal support.

Hiring an Attorney for Protection

If you are concerned about the safety of yourself and children, then it is in your best interest to get proper legal protection. As the divorce moves forward, emotions and tensions are likely to only get worse, so it’s a good idea to recruit a lawyer, like a divorce lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright, for information about your options. Your attorney can provide details on how to file a restraining order or temporary child custody until the issues can be discussed during a court hearing.

Evidence to Bring to Court

In preparation of your court hearing, your attorney will recommend gathering as much evidence as possible about the domestic violence. Even if there isn’t a criminal conviction that resulted from a domestic violence incident, it can still be a persuading factor in the spousal support award. Examples of evidence that can be useful during your hearing include:

  • Police reports for a domestic violence episode, in which you felt your safety was in danger, were physically or emotionally harmed, or your spouse was arrested for their behavior. 
  • Past threats that were made by your spouse through a handwritten note, voicemail, email, or other form of communication. 
  • Photographs of your visible injuries, such as bruises, broken bones, soft tissue wounds, etc. 
  • Video of your spouse being angry, becoming physically violent, or otherwise inflicting harm onto you. 
  • Medical documentation from a doctor if you went to the doctor for treatment of domestic violence-related injuries. 
  • Therapy notes from your therapist if you sought mental health help after domestic violence incidents. 

It is important to express your worries about being harmed by your ex spouse during a divorce and spousal support hearing. If the judge grants you spousal support, this may outrage your ex and motivate him to potentially harm you. Your attorney can strategize with you on how to keep yourself safe during this complex and sensitive time. You and your attorney can create a plan that entails enforcing legal protections, staying with trusted friends and family, and taking steps to prohibit your spouse from seeing children.