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impact domestic violence on divorce

Domestic Violence and its Impact on the Divorce Process

Categorized as Divorce

Domestic violence can impact every aspect of your life and the lives of your children, especially when going through divorce proceedings. There are two domestic violence situations that can occur while going through a divorce. One situation is going through a divorce proceeding, and there has been a long history of domestic violence throughout the course of the marriage. The other scenario is when domestic violence arises for the first time right before the divorce or for the first time during the ongoing divorce proceedings. Both situations can greatly impact a divorce case. 

History of Domestic Violence Before Filing for Divorce

Often if there has been a long history of domestic violence in a marriage, when a divorce proceeding is started, there might already be an order of protection in place against the abusive spouse, with the children as protected parties. However, in many cases, despite a long history of abuse, there have not been any protective measures put in place.

Is there an Order of Protection?

If there is an order of protection in place, this will impact the communication between the parties as well as the parenting issues if there are minor children from the marriage. Since an order of protection prohibits communication between the parties via phone, texting, in-person, and email, there needs to be another way for the parties to at least be able to communicate about the minor children when necessary. There are certain apps you can download on your phone that the court will order parties to use if there is an order of protection, so they can strictly discuss the minor child or children. The communication exchanges using these apps cannot be deleted and can be viewed by attorneys and sometimes the judge if necessary. These apps help the parties be parents for the children but restrict their communication to prevent future abuse. 

Technology Apps Used to Aid Communication

There are apps the Court uses for parents who cannot communicate or who have domestic violence issues. These are called Talking Parents and Our Family Wizard. These allow parents to communicate without worrying that:

  • (1) one parent might delete messages (they are not able to with these apps) to manipulate the messages that are sent,
  • (2) that the other parent might harass them via this communication, as the attorneys in their case usually have access to the accounts and can view the messages, and
  • (3) that they have to exchange any information in person or over the phone. Abusers often text or call their spouse or ex-spouse repeatedly to try to harass them, with a communication app that hopefully eliminates that harassing behavior.

Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Children

Parenting time and decision-making for the minor children can also be impacted depending on if the children are protected parties under the order of protection or not. If they are protected parties, then parenting time for the abusive spouse could be restricted and supervised. Oftentimes, a court will also appoint a Guardian ad Litem for the minor children to advocate for their best interests when it comes to parenting time and contact with the abusive parent. The Guardian ad Litem is another attorney who will consult with the children and parents before making recommendations to the court on parenting time and decision-making determined by what is best for the children.

Protecting the Interests of the Children

Often, the Court will need an outside party, like a Guardian ad Litem, or “GAL”, appointed to advocate for what is in the best interests of the children and to investigate the alleged abuse against them. The GAL can also recommend to the Court what, if any, parenting time or role the abusive spouse will have in the child or children’s lives. 

If there is no order of protection in place, a GAL can still be appointed to investigate and make a recommendation to the Court as to what the parenting time schedule should be and who should make decisions for the minor children. Most likely, the abuser and the abused spouse will be unable to make decisions together for the children due to the abusive relationship. The GAL and the Court will have to access how the parents will communicate and how they can both be parents to the children without much contact between them.

Financial Abuse During the Marriage

If there has been a long history of abuse, another factor at play that impacts the case is if there is currently or has also been financial abuse throughout the marriage. Financial abuse occurs when the abusive party controls the other party through their access to money during the marriage. In this situation, there are several scenarios wherein the abusive spouse may give their spouse no access to bank accounts or credit cards unless they give them permission. The abusive spouse might also use financial abuse against their spouse by not allowing them to work outside the home to earn money or by having them on an allowance of some kind. There are other less obvious forms of financial abuse as well, which you should discuss with your attorney if you suspect they are happening to you.

Domestic Violence at the Outset of the Divorce

If you are involved in domestic violence for the first time during the divorce case, there is less likely an impact of financial abuse is less likely; however, that does not mean it absolutely does not exist or that it has never happened. If domestic violence occurs at the onset of the divorce case, your attorney can act fast to file an emergency order of protection or any motions necessary to stop the abuse to the abused party and/or any minor children. A GAL can also be appointed quickly for the minor children to protect their best interest. Since you are already in court regarding your divorce case, swift action can be taken to address the abuse at the onset.

Filing for Divorce When Domestic Violence Is a Factor

If you are planning to file for divorce and you are a victim of domestic violence and/or you have an Order of Protection in place against your abuser protecting yourself, your children, or both, be sure to call an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney like those at Andrson Boback & Marshall, LLC, who can help protect you against the long term or short domestic violence that is occurring in your marriage. 

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