2024 How Does Domestic Violence Affect a Divorce Case in California?

Divorces can be challenging on a number of levels, from the emotional to the financial, even in straightforward cases — and many divorces are anything but straightforward. Various factors can complicate and affect the course of a divorce proceeding, one of these being a history of domestic violence between the divorcing partners. So, how does domestic violence affect a divorce case in California?

Domestic violence incidents can certainly have profound implications on divorce cases, but this is a difficult question to answer because the specific implications and consequences will vary from case to case, depending on the specifics.

Domestic violence (threatening or harmful acts perpetrated between members of the same household or family) encompasses a wide range of unlawful actions. It is a serious issue and, unfortunately, one that remains pervasive throughout many segments of society.

Whether it’s a battering incident that directly led to the filing of a divorce or a years-long pattern of emotional and financial manipulation, it’s safe to say that domestic violence and other forms of abuse can indeed have a major impact on a divorce (or other types of family law cases). Determining the exact degree to which domestic violence issues will affect a final divorce ruling, however, is a more difficult and nuanced prospect.

What Is Domestic Violence in California?

California has one of the most robust legal frameworks in the nation when it comes to protecting the victims of these insidious crimes. This means that domestic violence encompasses a wide range of abusive behaviors, not all of them physical. In the state, various forms of emotional, psychological, verbal, and financial abuse can also qualify as domestic violence.

Outdated definitions of domestic violence more or less began and ended with physical assault of a spouse or child, but the modern definitions in states like California are far more comprehensive. For example, Verbal abuse like harassment, threats, and bullying are considered domestic violence in the state because of the very real impact they have on a victim’s emotional well-being and overall quality of life.

Financial abuse, meanwhile, is an often overlooked but all too common form of non-physical domestic violence that involves controlling or manipulating a partner’s finances, usually for financial gain but sometimes simply as a demonstration of power and control. Regardless of intent, financial abuse is illegal and, when it occurs between family members, a form of domestic violence.

The Intersection of Divorce and Domestic Violence

In many domestic violence cases, the first step is a restraining order, or personal protective order, to protect the abused party (and their children, when applicable). A restraining order can also be an effective tool for domestic violence cases involving married or divorcing couples.

These powerful and fast-acting legal decrees prevent further harm to victims by prohibiting the abuser from contacting them or physically coming within a certain distance of their location. This can provide a crucial layer of safety in contentious divorces.

A history of domestic violence can also severely impact the child custody arrangements that are made during the course of divorce proceedings. In family law proceedings of all types, California is obligated to prioritize the best interests of minor children. Allowing a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence may prioritize their safety and well-being.

This means that if there is viable evidence that one of the parents is abusive, the court may place strict limits on their visitation rights or even deem them unfit to have any sort of custody. Sometimes, visitation with a formerly abusive parent may need to be supervised.

Domestic violence allegations may also influence the awarding of spousal support or alimony. For example, the court may be less likely to award any form of financial support to an abusive spouse from their victim.


Q: What Effect Does Domestic Violence Have on the Divorce Rate?

A: Domestic violence has an effect on the divorce rate because acts of domestic violence create dissatisfaction in relationships. In many cases, a married person experiencing domestic violence at the hands of their spouse will be strongly encouraged by friends, family, and other trusted people in their life to file for divorce and leave the marriage.

Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce Settlement in California?

A: A wife is not entitled to anything in particular in a divorce settlement in California, as there is no distinction between wives and husbands when dividing marital property and assets in a divorce. California is a “community property” state, which means that each party, regardless of whether they identify as a husband or wife, is entitled to half of the marital assets (or, more accurately, half of their total value).

Q: Can One Spouse Refuse Divorce in California?

A: One spouse cannot refuse divorce in California. Even if one spouse completely refuses to engage in the divorce process, the process can move ahead. A collaborative divorce featuring parties more or less on the same page about things will likely be much smoother, but a divorce where only one party wants the divorce is entirely possible in California.

Q: How Do I Protect Myself From Divorce in California?

A: You protect yourself from divorce in California by being a loving, attentive, and supportive spouse capable of maintaining a long-term marriage. Otherwise, there is no real way to “protect” yourself from the possibility of divorce, as California does not require both parties to want the divorce. To protect your assets and rights throughout divorce proceedings, it is recommended to retain the services of a great divorce lawyer.

Najera Law Group of Riverside, CA — Your Trusted Team for Complex and Contentious California Divorces

If you’re getting divorced in California or have been thinking about filing, Najera Law Group, P.C., is here to help. Our team is ready to offer totally confidential legal help for any Californians who need swift and effective help getting divorced, including victims of domestic violence. Don’t let an abusive marriage derail your life for one more day. Contact us for powerful legal solutions that put you on a path to a brighter tomorrow.



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