How Spousal Abuse Might Affect Your Divorce Case

Understanding the Impact of Spousal Abuse on Divorce Proceedings

Allegations of abuse can heavily influence divorce proceedings, from the onset of protective orders to the eventual division of assets. Below, we will discuss the specific effects in further detail.

Assessing the Best Interests of the Child

Child custody and visitation rights are among the most sensitive aspects of a divorce, especially when spousal abuse allegations are involved. In these cases, the court's paramount concern is the child's best interests.

This standard goes beyond mere preference and delves into the child's safety, emotional well-being, and overall development. Judges meticulously review the circumstances of the alleged abuse and its potential impact on the child.

Proven abuse can lead to decisions that prioritize the child's welfare, such as granting custody to the non-abusive parent or setting up supervised visitation arrangements. The child's voice may also play a role, with older children sometimes being given a platform to express their own concerns and wishes regarding custody and visitation.

The court's decisions are not made lightly and are always framed within the context of what will best serve the child's interests. It's important to note that while the law seeks to prevent further harm, it also considers the potential for rehabilitation and the importance of maintaining a relationship with both parents when safe and appropriate. As such, supervised visitation or therapy requirements may be part of the court's orders, reflecting the nuanced approach to parental rights amidst abuse allegations.

Financial Implications of Spousal Abuse | Alimony Considerations

The determination of alimony takes into account the standard of living during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and the contributions of each spouse, with the abuse serving as a critical factor in the final decision. The goal is to ensure a fair and equitable financial settlement that allows the abused spouse to rebuild their life post-divorce.

The courts may adjust the amount or duration of support to reflect the severity and impact of the abuse. This is not merely a punitive measure; rather, it's an acknowledgment of the economic hardships that can result from years of abuse, such as impaired earning capacity or career interruptions.

Division of Marital Property & Debt

In Utah, the court divides assets and liabilities fairly but not necessarily equally. When abuse is a factor, the scales may tip in favor of the abused spouse, recognizing the need for additional resources to compensate for the abuse's impact.

This might mean a larger share of the marital home, savings, or retirement accounts. Conversely, the abusive spouse may be held more accountable for marital debts, especially if those debts are connected to the abuse.

The Role of Evidence in Substantiating Abuse Claims

Evidence is the cornerstone of substantiating claims of spousal abuse in a court of law. It's not just about proving the existence of abuse; it's also about demonstrating its impact on the abused spouse and the marital relationship. In divorce cases, the types of evidence presented can range from medical records and police reports to personal testimonies and photographic proof.

Obtaining Protective Orders During Divorce

For many facing spousal abuse during a divorce, obtaining a protective order is a critical step toward safety and stability. The immediate goal is to prevent further abuse, but these orders also serve a strategic purpose in divorce proceedings, establishing a legal acknowledgment of the abuse that can influence future decisions.

A protective order can restrict the abusive party from:

  • contacting or communicating with the filing party (and others included in the order),
  • staying in a residence shared with the filing party,
  • maintaining ownership of firearms or other weapons,
  • inhabiting or visiting areas where the petitioner (and others included in the order) work, go to school, worship, or frequent, and/or
  • committing or threatening to commit acts of violence against the filing party.

The court will impose specific restrictions, so it is important to review the terms outlined in the protective orders. If a person violates a protective order, they can be arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

It is important to note that Utah grants protective orders to victims of physical abuse, verbal abuse, and stalking. In cases where a partner is financially abusing you, you cannot pursue protective orders and should talk with an attorney about your options.

Compassionate Divorce Counsel

At Nelson, Taylor & Associates, our attorneys work diligently to understand your unique circumstances and tailor our counsel accordingly. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce with spousal abuse as a factor, we encourage you to reach out to us.

Should you retain our services, you can trust our team to listen attentively to your concerns, provide clear and concise advice, and work collaboratively with you to develop a plan that aligns with your goals. We also value transparency and make it a priority to keep you informed throughout your journey with us.

Schedule an initial consultation by calling (801) 901-7046.