DV and Divorce, Custody, & Support

Domestic violence has a significant effect on the outcome of divorce, support and child custody.

Absolute Divorce: An absolute divorce usually requires a waiting period of at least one year before a spouse can file. However, in cases of domestic violence, the victim can file for divorce immediately on domestic violence grounds without the waiting period.

Limited Divorce: A battered spouse who files for a limited divorce (which is essentially a legal separation) can also obtain:

  • A restraining order that forbids the abuser to return home, harass, or abuse the victim and/or children
  • Temporary award of child custody and support
  • A temporary visitation schedule with a provision to protect safety
  • Temporary use and possession of the family home, family car, and/or family home furnishings
  • Temporary support order
  • A determination of who owns what personal property

Protective Orders: Protective orders cannot be used as evidence during divorce proceedings when it comes to alimony or monetary awards, but they can be used for child custody and visitation issues.

Pendente Lite Relief: Pendente lite relief can be ordered immediately for a domestic violence victim under extraordinary circumstances, such as: the parent with the children lives in a shelter; support payments are not being made; a foreclosure notice was received; there has been no visitation, or visitation has been withheld; or the children have been taken by the abuser.

Emergency Custody: Emergency custody proceedings are held if it is likely that a child will be snatched by a parent, or if a protective order is about to expire.

Without a custody order, a parent can remove a child from school, flee with the child, and the police will not be allowed to act. If a parent requires immediate custody relief, the parent needs to work with his or her lawyer to obtain an Initial Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence. If that is not possible, the parent can file for emergency custody.

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