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Leveraging Domestic Violence Charges in Divorce Cases

In my last blog post, I talked about how I often don’t see true violence in divorce cases (in fact, in about 30% of the “domestic violence” cases that come through my door, neither spouse wants any charges at all).

However, it is not uncommon for one spouse to leverage a domestic violence charge – whether or not it was truly warranted – during a divorce process to gain an advantage.

Today, let’s take a look at how this can manifest. If you’re going through a divorce process it can be highly emotional for both people and it’s important to be very careful as you move forward.

Domestic Violence Minus the Violence

Domestic violence charges do not always involve violence. In fact, even a simple act that is perceived as aggressive or indirectly threatening, manipulative, etc. can result in domestic violence charges.

For instance, I represented one man who found out his wife was cheating. He was so upset that he smashed his wedding ring with a hammer in the kitchen... resulting in a domestic violence charge.

Another man got so angry during an argument that he threw a framed wedding picture to the ground. No one was hurt, and it is unlikely either party was attached to the wedding pictures in a divorce. However, he was charged with criminal mischief and domestic violence.

One of my clients was served divorce papers and a restraining order. He didn’t know either were coming. He was completely confused by the situation, and wrote his wife an email saying something like, “What is all this about? You’re the love of my life.”

Since he had violated the protection order and contacted his wife, she called the police, and he was charged with domestic violence for telling her that she was the love of his life. She got sole possession of the house and he was only able to see the children when she allowed it.

How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce Cases

If you have a domestic violence charge and you’re going through a divorce, you can bet that it will be a factor in your divorce case – especially if there are children involved.

When someone is charged with domestic violence, it becomes much more difficult to get joint custody of the kid(s); the Court will have difficulty overlooking the potential effect domestic violence could have on the children... even if your domestic violence case didn’t actually involve physical violence. Furthermore, there will be a protection order preventing the offending party from returning home. I have had cases where the house is only owned by one party, but the other party gets to live there because of the protection order. Residing in the house also gives the party an advantage at arriving at a parenting time schedule.

Spouses may also leverage domestic violence charges to receive more maintenance/alimony (the person is too traumatized to work and/or has to pay for counseling, etc.), use it to argue the other person has anger management issues so there should be limitations on your parenting time, etc.

Again, domestic violence can be very real, and, if it is, it should be dealt with. However, the “pendulum” has swung the other way, and, frequently, in the less severe cases, the mandatory aspects of domestic violence are “overkill”.

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence and you’re going through a divorce, it’s vital that you keep a low profile and remember that you’re under a microscope at all times. Additionally, it’s highly recommended that you obtain legal representation.

We specialize in divorce cases and domestic violence. Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.