Blogs from August, 2022

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Can Domestic Abuse Change a Divorce Court's Rulings?


If you are experiencing domestic violence, you need to seek help immediately. Get to a safe place and call the police. If the threat is imminent, they may be able to help you secure an emergency protective order. This will give you time to prepare for a longer-lasting order later. If the abuse is coming from a spouse, you also need to talk to an attorney and begin filing for divorce.

You can view a divorce in many ways. Some prefer to think of it as a clean break. They just want to start from where they are and move forward. Others, however, view their divorce as a way to seek justice.

A divorce court can act almost like a civil court, depending on the situation. When there is evidence of abuse, the court can compensate the victim in various ways.

Here are some ways that divorce allegations can affect the outcome of a divorce.

Domestic Violence Can Change the Distribution of Assets

Typically, states use one of two models when dividing assets between spouses. Very broadly, these systems are either “equitable” or “equal.”

In an equal distribution model, the state tries to give each spouse 50% of the marital assets. Only nine states use this method.

In an equitable distribution model, states try to distribute assets based on fairness. For instance, one spouse may keep the car which is their primary form of transportation, even if the other spouse paid for it. Iowa is an equitable distribution state.

If there is evidence of abuse, the court may award the victim a greater share of property, even in an equal distribution state. The court uses this property to compensate the victim for their pain and suffering, and it is also a way to directly punish the abuser.

Domestic Violence Can Change the Amount of Spousal Support

Some states use rigid formulas for spousal support rulings. Others go on a case-by-case basis. Even if the state uses a formula, it still looks at the details of the marriage first. It considers the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, each spouse’s income, and so on.

When the court believes that abuse existed within the marriage, it may force the abuser to spend more money on spousal support. This, again, acts as a form of compensation and punishment. It can also help the victim get back on their feet, as they will likely need extra services for their mental health and other areas.

Domestic Violence Can Change the Amount of Child Support

If the children directly experienced or witnessed child abuse, the court may order a greater degree of support. This is similar to its approach to spousal support.

Both Sides Should Seek Help

Victims of domestic abuse deserve help and compassion. The system should work for them, and a divorce can help provide some compensation for their pain, even if it is only financial. These victims need the help of a good attorney who can prove what they experienced.

Conversely, people who have been falsely accused of abuse deserve help as well. It’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but false allegations are more common than many people believe. In 2020, YouGov conducted a survey, and it concluded that over 20 million Americans were wrongly accused of domestic abuse.

Someone facing false accusations from a bitter spouse also needs a skilled attorney, someone who can counter all these claims with strong evidence.

If you need help with a divorce involving domestic abuse claims, whether you are the victim or are being falsely accused, our firm can help. Contact us online today and set up a free consultation, or call us now at (515) 200-7571.