Divorcing an Abusive Spouse with the Help of Divorce Attorneys in Oceanside, California
When your spouse has been abusive, it’s important that you take immediate action in order to protect yourself and any children involved in the situation. Though navigating a complex divorce trial may seem like more of a burden than you’re willing to bear — it’s in the best interest of you and your children to legally separate and start the transition to a healthier, safer life.
Even if you think you can’t afford a divorce trial because your spouse is currently in control of your finances — there are a number of options available for women who have suffered from abuse in Oceanside, California. The first step is to reach out to experienced divorce attorneys from Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP for a consultation. We’ll discuss your situation and find out what’s the best option for your safety and well-being.
What is considered abuse in the State of California?
Abuse can be defined in a number of ways. If someone intentionally causes or attempts to cause bodily injury or sexual assault, then they are an abusive partner. Even if the abuse has not yet gotten physical, making another person feel as if they’re under imminent risk of bodily harm is also considered abusive.
Beyond physical violence, other signs of an abusive relationship include:
- Coercion and threats
- Intimidation tactics, including gestures and actions
- Emotional abuse
- Isolating a partner from their family and friends.
- Making light of abuse or pretending it didn’t happen
- Economic abuse, including stealing money or controlling all family finances
California Family Code 6320 also mentioned the following as types of abuse:
“molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, making annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m of the Penal Code, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members.”
Situational Domestic Abuse vs. A Pattern of Abuse
Abuse can take many forms. For legal purposes, there is a difference between a spouse suffering from situational abuse and a spouse who experiences an ongoing pattern of abuse. According to family law judges, situational domestic violence is associated with external factors that trigger a traditionally non-abusive partner to lash out against their family.
The most common forms of situational spousal abuse include:
- Discovering their partner has had a relationship outside of the marriage
- Being confronted about an affair
- They’ve become addicted to drugs or alcohol
Wives who have experienced this kind of abuse will often explain away the incident or even blame themselves for it occurring. It’s important to note that just because the domestic violence you’ve experience is situational in nature, it should not be ignored. No matter the root cause, spousal abuse can have a huge impact on your well-being and the psychological health of your children. If your partner has become violent following any of the scenarios above — don’t wait for the situation to become more serious.
Even if it was a one time incident, you never know when the next event will trigger a violent response from your partner. Reaching out to a divorce attorney following an episode from an abusive partner should be a high priority to ensure the safety of your family.
While you may not be ready to file for divorce, a family court in California could issue a restraining order for your protection in the meantime. Some restraining orders can last for years, but in cases of situational violence, a judge may issue the restraining order for any length of time depending on your situation. It could last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. This will give you enough time and space from the situation to decide whether a divorce is the right decision for your family.
Spouses with a Pattern of Abuse
Relationships that suffer from a pattern of abuse over the course of years are often marked by physical violence, threats, and intimidation of both the spouse and children involved. If this sounds like your relationship, then you need to get help fast for your own safety. The most important thing for you to do is to protect yourself and your children. For the time being, move in with a family member or friend or, reach out to a local shelter that may be able to house you and your child.
You may think divorcing your abusive husband will take too much time – but that’s not always the case. By reaching out to experienced divorce attorneys, you can take the first step toward filing an immediate domestic violence restraining order in a California court. If you have children, your attorney can also provide you with information about visitation and custody and how that relates to your abusive partner.
Where should I begin?
Women suffering from spousal abuse are often advised to get out of their situation — but it’s not always simple. When there are children involved or when your spouse controls all of your finances, it can prove difficult to hire an attorney for a divorce. Even if you’ve already moved away from your spouse, for many who feel threatened or intimidated by their partner, it can be emotionally difficult to file for divorce immediately.
If you’re interested in legally separating from your spouse, but don’t have the confidence to move forward, there are many helplines for victims of domestic violence. Legal experts in domestic violence and divorce may also be able to connect you with a licensed therapist in Oceanside, California, who would be able to help you start the healing process.
Once you’re at the point where you’re emotionally ready to take legal action, it’s time to seek the guidance of experienced divorce attorneys who can represent you in court.
File a Restraining Order
There are many ways that you can take action following domestic abuse. One such way is filing a domestic violence restraining order. In the state of California, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) protects domestic violence victims and allows them to take expedited action in order to file a restraining order against the abusive spouse.
In addition to protecting a spouse that has suffered from abuse, this act can also be used to protect the following:
- A cohabitant or former cohabitant
- Someone who was involved in a dating or engagement relationship with the abusive party
- A co-parent
- A child of a parent
- Blood relatives
Designed to prevent further harm toward the victim, domestic violence restraining orders can be completed with or without notice – so you don’t have to wait. It’s traditional for the ultimate hearing to take place 3 weeks after filing the emergency restraining order.
To qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, you and the person you’re filing against must be:
- Married, divorced, or separating
- Dating or formally dating
- Parents of a child
- A close family member (including brother, sister, grandparent, or in-law)
If you’re not sure if you qualify for a restraining order, divorce attorneys can help. They’ll help guide you through your case and ensure you fill out all of the proper paperwork as soon as possible.
Gathering Evidence of Spousal Abuse
When it comes to proving domestic violence, a court case can become even more complex or contentious when it relies on “he said, she said” rather than concrete evidence. In those situations, the family law judge will have to use their best judgment to decide which version of events is the most credible. If you’re able, providing supporting evidence of abuse will help bolster your hearing and increase the chances that your interests are met.
Gathering evidence against an abusive husband can include any of the following:
Photographic evidence: This includes photos of injuries as well as broken or damaged property (including shattered phones or laptops, broken windows, or holes in the walls)
Documentary evidence: Threatening text messages, emails, or voicemails could serve as documentary evidence in your case. If there are also any letters written by you or your partner that mentions the abuse, that could be used during your hearing, as well. If you ever filed a police report following an incident, this would also count as documented evidence.
Eyewitness testimony: If a friend or family member has witnessed your abuse, property damage, or injuries, then they could testify in your case. An eyewitness can also be someone who overheard the abuser admit to their behavior during a conversation.
Even if you haven’t been documenting the evidence throughout the abusive relationship and there are no photographs, voicemails, or letters to present to the court — that doesn’t mean that your case is a lost cause. Experienced divorce attorneys will be able to work with you to review your case and lay out a plan for you to begin the documentation process or start gathering any evidence of past issues. If you’re not sure where to get started with building your case, reach out to Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP of Oceanside, California, to schedule a consultation for your domestic violence restraining order or divorce settlement.
How does domestic abuse affect California divorce law?
California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that in many cases, the circumstances of the divorce (including financial issues or infidelity) aren’t traditionally used to determine the outcome of a divorce hearing. However, there is an exception made for divorce cases that involve domestic violence or abuse.
In the state of California, domestic violence can often affect a divorce financially. If your abusive partner has been convicted of an act of domestic violence within 5 years of your dissolution proceeding, then the court will presume that the convicted spouse should not receive any form of spousal support. This is called a “rebuttable presumption”, which means it is not automatic.
The convicted spouse can still submit evidence to “prove” that alimony or spousal support is still necessary. It may seem strange, but this law exists to prevent victims from finding themselves in a situation where they are financing their own abuse.
Financial Support During Divorce
On the other hand, if you’re a victim of abuse and you are separating from your partner, then you may be able to receive the financial support you need to pay for your divorce law attorney and the expenses associated with a divorce trial. In the state of California, under certain circumstances, you can begin receiving temporary spousal support or child support before your divorce is final.
Receive a Consultation for Your Divorce Case involving Domestic Abuse
When it comes to domestic abuse, the most important thing you can do is ensure the safety of you and your children. Get out of the home and move in with a trusted family member, friend, or a local California shelter. Once you’re no longer in immediate danger, it’s time to think about what’s best for you and your family. Was the incident situational? Or was it part of an on-going pattern of abuse?
If you make the decision to legally separate or divorce your abusive spouse, then reach out to divorce attorneys as soon as possible. At Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, we have years of experience in working with domestic violence divorce cases and we know how abuse can affect the hearing and proceedings. Whether you want to file a restraining order, start gathering evidence against your spouse, or learn about your options for divorce, we can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation about your case.