According to the Florida Commission Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) in 2016, 105,668 domestic violence crimes were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies which resulted in 63,193 arrests. The FCADV also found that during the fiscal year 2015-2016, Florida's certified domestic violence centers provided emergency shelter to 16,362 survivors of domestic violence and their children. Advocates also received 122,999 domestic violence hotline calls from individual seeking assistance. A sad reality is that many incidences of domestic violence occur between spouses and ultimately, will be the cause of their divorce. When domestic violence is part of a divorce, there can be serious implications.
Time-sharing and Decision-Making
When a couple in this situation has children, the court is going to exercise extreme caution when it comes to allowing a child to be exposed to violence or a violent parent. While the law favors the creation of a parenting plan which enables both parents to have time with their child and shared decision making, it also puts the child’s best interest as its main priority. When evaluating the child's best interest, the court can and will examine:
· Any evidence of domestic violence between the parties regardless of whether there are past or present charges;
· Any past convictions for domestic violence; and
· Any evidence that a child’s health or safety have been or could be endangered.
Depending on the circumstances, when there has been violence between the parents, the court may give one parent primary decision-making authority and custody. The violent parent’s visits may have to be supervised or could even be denied altogether. The child's best interest is paramount and will be the court's focus as it makes decisions about how to structure custody and visitation when there has been violent conduct within a family.
Florida courts divide marital property in terms of equitable division which means that the goal is for property to be distributed fairly. When there is evidence of domestic violence, the court can consider this factor when deciding the share of the marital assets each party will be awarded. For instance, if there is evidence that the abusive partner would not allow the other party to work or injured them and caused them to be unable to work, the court may decide to award the party a greater share of the marital assets.
Spousal support or alimony is another area in which domestic violence could be a critical factor. The court can examine multiple aspects of a couple's situation in deciding whether or not to award alimony and what type of maintenance may be appropriate. If one spouse was abusive towards the other one, this may cause the court to consider granting spousal support to the injured party. Further, as in the case with equitable division, the court can also consider whether the abusive relationship deprived the abused spouse access to marital resources and opportunities to pursue higher education and employment.
Contact the Law Office of Charles Draper
If you are considering divorce and domestic violence is an issue in your marriage, an attorney can provide you with the guidance you need. Our office has experience with divorce cases and understands the implications of domestic violence. To learn more, contact Draper Law Office today at (866) 767-4711 or online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our Central Florida offices.