Will Allegations of Domestic Violence Affect My Divorce Settlement?
Allegations of domestic violence can have both a direct and indirect impact on divorce settlement proceedings, including child custody issues, alimony matters, and even property division. Because each divorce case is unique, you should consider speaking with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney to learn more about how domestic violence could affect your own divorce settlement.
Child Custody Determinations
It may come as no surprise that domestic violence can directly impact a parenting plan, child custody arrangement, or visitation agreement. This is largely due to the fact that in Florida, the best interests of the child dictate child custody awards, so even though most family law judges believe that shared parental responsibility is the ideal situation for a child’s upbringing, courts will almost always award sole legal custody to one parent when the other parent’s conduct or behavior could have adverse effects for the child. This includes the following behaviors:
- A history of allegations or convictions for domestic violence;
- Evidence of domestic violence;
- A history of child abuse or neglect; and
- Engaging in conduct that endangers a child’s health.
This does not mean, however, that a person who has been accused or convicted of domestic violence will be barred from visitation. Instead, courts will attempt to come up with an arrangement that takes into consideration the safety of the other parent, as well as the child.
Spousal Maintenance Awards
When determining whether one spouse will be required to make spousal maintenance payments to the other upon the dissolution of a couple’s marriage, courts take a number of factors into consideration, including the length of the marriage, both parties’ incomes, and whether the couple shares children. While Florida courts don’t usually assess fault when making these decisions, allegations of domestic violence could still have an indirect impact on an alimony award determination. This is because judges specifically look at whether one spouse needs alimony and the other spouse can afford to pay it, which also requires an assessment of both parties’ emotional and physical health, education, earning capacity, and employability. If a conviction or allegations of domestic violence have had an impact on any of these factors, a court could take it into consideration when issuing an alimony award.
Property Division Agreements
In Florida, marital property is divided equitably between two parties upon divorce. In determining what type of arrangement would qualify as equitable or fair, courts consider many factors, some of which may involve the secondary effects of domestic violence, including:
- The temporary or permanent physical, emotional, or psychological harm sustained by one party;
- Diminished earning capacity; and
- Financial losses.
Domestic violence can raise a variety of complications during divorce, so if you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage and your relationship involved allegations of domestic violence, you should definitely consider consulting a divorce attorney in your area.
An Experienced Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer
Please call dedicated divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.