How Does Domestic Violence Impact my Divorce?
If your marriage is wrought with bouts of domestic violence, you may be wondering how it will impact your efforts at divorce. New York is one of many “fault” states when it comes to divorce, meaning there are still grounds for divorce. Domestic violence is considered cruel and inhuman treatment, but other faults include abandonment for at least one year and imprisonment. Domestic violence can impact the divorce process in that the courts will assess how domestic violence affected your life while married.
If your ex-spouse’s abuse inhibited your ability to earn a living, you may be awarded more of the marital assets. This may be because of physical abuse that kept you from leaving your home as well as financial abuse such as controlling your activities, monitoring your communication, or emotional abuse that leaves you unable to perform daily tasks effectively. This type of abuse would also affect award of alimony, especially if the abuse left you financially dependent, as you are likely to get more than if you had been employed. Property division, settlements, and alimony are three areas where you can work to regain control and start over again.
How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child custody?
Domestic violence within a marriage where children are involved is a complicated issue. The court will always decide upon a ruling with the children’s best interest in mind. If there is a criminal case underway, the court may rule for an order of protection, limiting the abuser’s ability to communicate with you or your children. Civil and criminal orders of protection will typically be based upon decision by the Integrated Domestic Violence Court.
When it comes to child custody, it is possible for a court to allow an abuser to see the children if there is not a chance of the children being abused. This is primarily based on the circumstances of the abuse and whether the children were also subject to abuse. If you are awarded full custody, the judge may still award the abuser some visitation rights so that the children have both parents in their lives. One common option is supervised visits, where a social worker or appointed family member must be present during visitation. You may also choose to have supervised drop off and pick up exchanges with your ex-spouse or can drop off and pick up at your local law enforcement precinct.
Steps to Protect Yourself
Once you have begun the divorce process, there are steps to take to protect yourself during interactions, these include:
- Develop a personal safety plan, for the “what if” situation.
- Enlist neighbors or someone nearby your home who you can trust to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
- Memorize important contact information so that you can seek help or contact family even if you do not have your phone.
- Maintain your order of protection and if you move, notify the local law enforcement of protection orders.
- If you fear for your safety, do not provide your contact information with your ex. There are aps that you can use to communicate, and you can meet in a safe place during exchanges for visitation.
- Pack a “get out” bag for you and your children so that, if you must, you can get out quickly.
- Make copies of all your family’s important documents and give them to a trusted family member or complete a list so that you do not forget anything if you need to leave quickly.
Contact the Divorce Attorneys You Can Trust
When you are ready to start fresh, you need a team you can count on. The divorce attorneys at Goldweber Epstein LLP can help you with your divorce, child custody arrangements, and asset division. We can stand by your side as you pursue a new life, as an advocate for you and your children’s best interests and the stability of your future. Divorce is never easy, but an experienced and compassionate divorce lawyer can make it easier—contact our team to put the attorney you need by your side.
Schedule your consultation today at (917) 809-7669.