Domestic abuse is, unfortunately, taking place all around us and yet very few of us will be aware of it happening to our friends or family as it usually occurs behind closed doors. For many divorce solicitors, this therefore means that some of our clients will be victims of domestic violence but may not openly speak about it.
In any case, domestic violence in the home poses not just emotional and psychological risks, but financial as well. Luckily, as part of a California domestic violence case you open with the court, you may be able to ask for financial support to help you meet the necessary financial expenses while you and your spouse are not living together.
As family lawyers, we are always aware that there can be hidden issues behind the breakdown of a relationship, however these figures have shocked us perhaps more than the national statistics, as these are individuals we have met…families we have acted for and supported.
The Government defines domestic abuse as:
Any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (California Family Code § 6200 et seq.), domestic violence charges cover a wide range of abuse, including spousal abuse and child endangerment. Any threatening or violent act, even if the accused did not intend to harm or compromise the safety and security of the victim, could be grounds for prosecution under the California Domestic Violence laws.
The term domestic abuse covers a wide range of behaviours and does not always mean that there is physical abuse.
Domestic abuse is not confined to any one type of person, it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, religion, race. The victims have often been isolated by the abuser with their links and access to friends and family being restricted.
Although California is a no-fault state regarding divorce, there are some instances where fault could be a factor, namely a domestic violence conviction. In California, when a spouse has been convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse within the past five years, the presumption is that the convicted spouse should not receive an award of spousal support. Keep in mind, this is a “rebuttable” presumption, not an automatic presumption, meaning the convicted spouse is allowed to present evidence to “rebut” the presumption against him or her. If there was domestic violence on both sides, then this may be taken into consideration by the judge, and spousal support could be awarded to the convicted spouse.
Leaving Your Abuser
As noted, there are certain protections available for those who are dealing with domestic violence and find themselves in family court. If you are in a domestic violence relationship, you will have different issues to consider once you decide to file for divorce, or when you separate from your spouse, particularly if there are children involved.
If it is at all possible, do a little bit of planning before you file for divorce, in that it could be extremely helpful to have some cash saved, and to have a safe place to stay—preferably one that your spouse will not immediately look.
Ask for Help
We can listen to your story and ensure you take the right steps towards protecting yourself, your children and your financial interests.
Contact our law firm today at 562-439-9001 if you or someone you know needs the help of an experienced family law attorney. We will be here for you when you call. Schedule a free consultation!
We are very central to all of Long Beach, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Newport Beach; and regularly serve all of Los Angeles.