It is easy to think that domestic violence victims without children should have a relatively “easy” divorce, but that is usually not the case. Many times, in marriages without children, the batterer may try even harder to continue to subject the victim of abuse and control because once the divorce is over there may not be a legal basis to continue any type of relationship. So, it is important to be prepared, even in a divorce without children, for potentially highly contested litigation.
In a divorce case involving domestic violence, in which the couple has no children between them, there are several issues that typically come up during the divorce – one, the need for a protective order; two, the potential claim for a marital tort that should be brought within the context of the divorce; and three, the impact the domestic violence has on a claim for a disproportionate share of the community’s estate.
To ask for a protective order, you must establish that family violence has been committed against you and the respondent is likely to commit family violence against you again in the future. Usually, the evidence that family violence has occurred in the past is readily available. Typically, the evidentiary, legal, and factual disputes center most over whether the family violence is likely to occur again in the future once the romantic relationship has ended, the couple are usually no longer living together, and the couple do not share children so they will unlikely be required to interact on a regular basis.
Every case is unique and the facts of your matter should be thoroughly evaluated with the attorney of your choice as you decide whether to pursue a protective order against your soon to be ex-spouse. If a protective order is granted for your protection, the usual duration of court ordered protection is two years from the granted relief. It is critical that you alert law enforcement about the existence of the protective order once granted so that they may appropriately response should the need for protection or a 911 crisis arise after the Court has rendered its order.
When evaluating the claims for marital torts and a disproportionate share of the community estate, detail and evidence development and presentation is key. A marital tort should be developed and evaluated no differently than a personal injury claim. The evidence supporting the claim that the batterer’s actions caused the victim’s injuries and resulting damages must be presented to the Court within the context of the final trial on the merits of the divorce. Recovery of damages, such as money lost for missed days of work, expenses paid for medical or therapeutic care because of the abuse, and pain, loss, suffering, and future losses should be evaluated with your attorney as you make your determination on what type of relief to seek from the Court.
For people going through domestic violence, divorce can add stress to a situation that already contains a great deal of stress. The goal is ultimately to start a new life, and as a lawyer who works with people surviving domestic violence, I’m here to help you determine what you want your post-divorce life to look like.