Domestic Violence and Divorce
While many couples stay together through fights and even long-term disagreements, physical abuse is unacceptable. While many abused spouses find themselves afraid to leave due to a lack of funds or support, many are able to separate from the abusive spouse using the power of the courts. If you find yourself in this situation, it is imperative to realize you are not alone, and that there are local resources available to help you create a safety plan for yourself.
Florida Domestic Violence Law
Florida’s definition of domestic violence is unfortunately somewhat restrictive compared to other states laws. The statute explicitly defines domestic violence to include any “criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death” to a family member, by another family or household member. While the statute does include such relatively recent crimes as stalking, it limits itself to fear of imminent physical harm. Mental and emotional abuse are very real, and can affect a victim even more than any physical threat. If you have not sustained any physical trauma from your abuser, it is much more difficult to obtain a domestic violence injunction.
Regardless of the nature of your abuse, you are entitled to file for an injunction, referred to as a Domestic Violence Injunction, against your abuser, which will set specific physical boundaries that he must not cross, on pain of fines and possible imprisonment.
The Effect of Abuse on Divorce
While abuse may be a major factor in divorce proceedings, it does not generally affect all legal aspects in a no-fault divorce. In Florida, the rule is that marital misconduct will have no effect on the division of property, but a court is entitled to consider abuse in assigning parenting time and who will raise the children. Decision makers reserve the right to bar a parent from seeing the child until the abuser completes programs such as anger management or substance abuse treatment.
While many might wish that any incident of abuse be an instant disqualification for the privilege of child custody, it is up to the individual courts to decide. A history of abuse is only one of the factors that will be taken into account in making such determinations. Abuse toward the other parent is treated differently than abuse of the child. Generally, the state aims to keep both parents in a child’s life unless the misconduct is truly extreme, and this definition is subjective. A court will make every effort to allow an abuser to rehabilitate himself without sacrificing the safety of the child.
Ask An Experienced Family Lawyer For Help
Experiencing abuse is something no one should ever have to go through, but as long as it happens, there will be a need for compassionate, knowledgeable legal professionals to help victims through it. The Orlando divorce attorneys at the firm of Goodblatt · Leo are happy to work with you to ensure that you and yours are safe and receive fair treatment by the court. Contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.