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How does domestic violence impact divorce in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Divorce |

Domestic violence can have a dramatic impact on a family. In California, domestic violence can involve the physical, financial, or emotional abuse of an intimate partner or family member. Under the California Penal Code, the following parties may be considered victims of domestic violence:

  • Intimate partners: Spouses, former spouses, domestic partners, live-in partners (past or present), people you have had a child with, dating partners (past or present), etc.
  • Family members: Children, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, etc.

Can domestic violence impact my divorce?

California is a no-fault divorce state. However, if domestic violence was a part of your marriage, it can impact several issues in your divorce, including child custody and spousal support.

Child custody

When a couple with children divorces, the court will have to determine custody arrangements based on what the court believes will serve the best interests of the child.

Domestic violence, even if the child is not the one being abused, may affect the child’s emotional wellbeing, and negatively impact the child’s living environment.

Therefore, if there is evidence of one parent engaging in abusive behavior, that parent is not likely to get full, or even partial custody, of their child.

Spousal support

Spousal support may be awarded to help lesser-earning spouses maintain the lifestyle they had during the marriage after the divorce.

Generally, the higher earning spouse will have to pay the lesser-earning spouse a certain amount of money each month. The amount and duration of the spousal support will depend on several factors.

Under California Family Code Section 4325, courts will not award spousal support to a spouse with a felony domestic violence conviction.

If a spouse has a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, there is a rebuttable presumption against that spouse receiving spousal support.

This means that the spouse with the misdemeanor conviction can attempt to convince the court that they should receive spousal support, despite their conviction. For example, they may present evidence showing that there was mutual abuse or that did not actually act abusive.

Domestic violence is unfortunately a part of many California divorces. Fortunately, there are many resources available for divorcing couples who are dealing with this issue.



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