How Does Domestic Violence Affect the Divorce Process?

Domestic violence affects millions of American families each year, and it can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and even economic abuse. Over the past several decades, every state has enacted laws to protect abuse victims, and many of these laws address how domestic violence affects a divorce.

Filing for Divorce

In California, the standard grounds for divorce are no fault grounds. This means that even if a spouse has been accused of domestic violence, the divorce still proceeds based on irreconcilable differences. While such an accusation does not necessarily affect the grounds for divorce, this doesn’t mean that violent behavior has no impact on the proceedings.

Child Custody & Visitation

Evidence of domestic violence almost always impacts child custody. According to California’s legislature, it is detrimental to a child if domestic violence or abuse is perpetrated in the child’s home. As a result, all court orders have to be made to ensure the safety of the child. If a spouse is abusive to a child or to another person in front of the child, that spouse is less likely to gain custody of the child. Gathering evidence can help sway the court in the victim’s favor when it comes to custody.

Judges can also order that a professional supervise all visitation periods and prohibit overnight visitation. They can also protect the abused parent by ordering that all exchanges of children take place in a public place. In extreme cases, the court may terminate the abuser’s visitation altogether and award full custody to the other parent.


Domestic abuse can also affect alimony when an abusive spouse harms the other spouse financially. Examples include not allowing a spouse to work or keeping money away from them. A judge can thus award the abused spouse a larger amount of spousal support.

These are just a few of many possible ways that domestic violence can affect the process of divorce and the outcome of divorce proceedings. If you need an experienced Westlake Village divorce lawyer, please call me today to learn how I can help.

Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff today at (805) 633-4999 or contact me online.

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