Statistics for domestic violence are unsettling and disheartening. In 2014, over 100,000 domestic violence incidents were reported in Florida, and over 4 million are affected nationwide. Women account for over 80% of domestic violence victims. In many cases, domestic violence forces victims being abused by their spouse to seek a divorce or restraining order.
Is domestic abuse grounds for divorce in Florida?
In a no fault state such as Florida, domestic violence and abuse are not grounds for divorce. Neither spouse is held responsible for a dissolution of marriage. Instead, according to Statute 61.052, grounds for divorce in Florida can be that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the spouses have irreconcilable differences, or one of the parties has been declared mentally incapacitated by a judge at least 3 years before filing for divorce.
While you cannot use domestic violence as grounds for divorce, evidence of domestic abuse in your marriage can be presented. Such evidence impacts the three main areas of conflict in divorce proceedings: child custody, alimony or spousal support, and parenting plans.
How divorce affects child custody
Child custody arrangements and visitation agreements are a top concern among victims of domestic violence. When leaving an abusive marriage, questions are often raised regarding whether or not the children will maintain contact with the abusive parent. Florida judges make all divorce decisions with the best interests of the children in mind; however, it can often be difficult to present a compelling case to the judge.
While judges aim to maintain shared parental involvement, if there is valid evidence of abuse the judge can order sole parental responsibility. Still, there is a chance that parents who have been convicted or accused of domestic violence can continue their relationship with their children and be granted visitation time. In these circumstances the judge is required to consider the safety of the children and the abused parent.
Does Domestic Violence Affect Property Distribution?
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that judges will do their best to divide property fairly, but that does not always mean that it will be divided equally. Domestic violence does not usually play a significant role in dividing property.
Domestic violence in marriage complicates divorce. Seek an experienced attorney like Stephen H. Butter who can protect your safety, rights, and long-term interests during this emotional time. A practicing family law attorney in Aventura for over 50 years, Mr. Butter is an excellent resource for legal counsel in marital litigation. Call him directly at (305) 333-7159.