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How does domestic violence affect a California divorce?

by | Jul 19, 2023 | Divorce, Domestic Violence


If you are going through a divorce and there has been domestic violence in your marriage, you may wonder how this will affect the outcome of your case. Domestic violence is a serious issue that can have legal and emotional consequences for both spouses and any children involved.

Grounds for divorce

In California, domestic violence does not affect the grounds for divorce. California only allows for no-fault divorce, which means that you cannot cite misconduct as grounds for your divorce, and you can cite “irreconcilable differences” However, violent behavior from one spouse to another may still have an impact on the proceedings.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to seek a restraining order against your abuser to protect yourself and your children during the divorce process. A Domestic Violence Restraining Order can prohibit your spouse from contacting you, coming near you or possessing firearms. It can also grant you temporary custody, support or exclusive use of the marital home. To obtain a restraining order, you will need to provide evidence of the abuse, such as police reports, medical records, photos or witness statements.

Child custody and visitation

One of the most significant ways domestic violence can affect a divorce is its impact on child custody and visitation decisions. The court will always prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody determinations, and any history of domestic violence is a critical factor the court will consider. If you are an abusive spouse, you may lose the custody of your child, or you may have supervised or restricted visitation. The court may also order you to complete a batterer’s intervention program, parenting classes or drug or alcohol counseling before granting custodial rights.

Spousal support

Domestic violence can also affect spousal support or alimony. In cases involving domestic abuse, the court is unlikely to order spousal support to be paid to an abusive partner, regardless of whether the payments are temporary or permanent. On the other hand, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be entitled to receive spousal support from your abuser, especially if the abuse has affected your ability to work.

Property division

California is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage is equally owned by both spouses and must be divided equally in a divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and one of them is domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a serious problem that can have lasting effects on both spouses and children involved in a divorce. If you are facing a divorce involving domestic violence in California, you must protect your rights and interests.