Sadly, one of the common underlying issues in many divorces is domestic violence. Either a history of abuse or a single incident can have significant impact on the outcome of a separation or divorce, so it is important to fully inform your attorney of the facts about any specific incidents or threats of violence. In San Diego Superior Court, for example, a spouse convicted of domestic violence will have to “rebut the presumption” for a spousal support award. Similarly, a conviction [or even a finding] of domestic violence by a San Diego Superior Court Judge [or even a conviction outside of San Diego] can result in severe consequences of being able to see children without supervision or rehabilitation.
Especially in cases involving domestic violence, it is important to consult a local San Diego divorce attorney. A local attorney will be more familiar with local resources available to victims of domestic violence and may be able to refer you to those services. Furthermore, a local attorney will be able to more economically access documentation of incidents, such as police reports, medical records, or protective orders. A local attorney also will have all of the most current California Judicial Council forms and San Diego Local Rules in the event an application for a temporary restraining order is needed.
While domestic violence is never acceptable, an offender may attempt to justify the behavior in some way. It is better for your attorney to have all the facts ahead of time in order to anticipate common justifications such as adultery, initiation of physical conflict, or even emotional abuse. A common theme in domestic violence situations is “the victim made me do it.” There is never an excuse to use violence even if provoked and, in a divorce or legal separation, emotions and tension can run high!
Repeated incidents of physical of violence may be considered more serious than a single isolated incident however a single incident is enough depending on the facts. The Court will look at whether the party has voluntarily or involuntarily received counseling for anger management. The Court may also consider whether or not an incident was staged and instigated by the victim.
A history of domestic violence can have a dramatic effect on financial settlements in a California divorce. A stress-related medical condition or emotional repercussions may make it difficult to maintain a job, requiring a higher level of spousal support.
Domestic violence issues can also affect child custody and visitation. It is a common assumption that an abusive spouse is more likely to become an abusive parent. The court may order visitation supervised by a neutral third party, or may order that visitation exchanges occur in a public place. If the other parent is in hiding due to threats of future violence, access to your children by phone may be limited.
Many abusers go to great lengths to conceal evidence of abuse. They begin by hitting “where it doesn’t show.” At first, many victims are hesitant to seek help, so there is little or no documentation. Physical abuse is often packaged with emotional abuse, blaming the victim with such statements as “If you were a better spouse/parent/housekeeper, I wouldn’t have to hit you.” Neighbors may hear these exchanges but can be reluctant to intervene unless asked. It is never acceptable to be a victim. You can get protection but will need to take the first step. There are many San Diego County organizations which can help as well as the police, San Diego City Attorney, San Diego District Attorney and the San Diego Superior Court.
Unfortunately, some victims may hesitate to leave an abusive situation for financial reasons. There is help available for such victims, and your San Diego divorce attorney may be able to direct you to those services. You don’t have to stay in an abusive marriage. You have options. To learn more about those options, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.