The Impact of Domestic Violence on Divorce Proceedings

Domestic violence

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Domestic violence affects millions of people each year. To protect victims and survivors, states have enacted laws addressing domestic violence and how it affects court decisions in divorces.

If you have been affected by abuse at the hand of your spouse, our attorneys are here to offer you compassionate legal services to help you escape your situation. Our blog today will go over what you can expect from a divorce involving domestic violence.

Filing For Divorce

Like many other states, California recognizes no-fault divorces, which is when there is no blame for the marital relationship's breakdown. This means that you cannot file for divorce based on your spouse’s domestic violence. However, even though California is a no-fault divorce state, you may be able to introduce evidence of your spouse’s behavior during the proceeding.

Division of Marital Property

Courts will consider a spouse’s behavior during the marriage when deciding how to divide the marital estate. If the court determines that the violence played a significant role in the dissolution of the marriage, it can weigh the conviction against the perpetrator in the division of community property.

Suppose the domestic abuse perpetrated against the victim resulted in an excessive depletion of community assets. In that case, the judge can help offset the victim's losses in the division of marital property.

Child Custody

If a spouse is abusive, he or she would be less likely to gain custody because it would not be in the best interest of the child. The court’s main priority is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the children.

There are various legal measures to protect children from abusive parents that courts they will utilize. Judges can order that a professional supervise all visitation periods and prohibit overnight visitation. The judge can also help protect the abused parent by ordering that all exchanges take place in a public setting. If you fear for your or your child's safety, you should bring this to the court's attention and ask for the appropriate protections.

In extreme cases, a court may terminate the abuser’s visitation or parental rights altogether and award full custody to the other parent.


In California, domestic abuse is most likely to affect alimony, especially when an abusive spouse harms the other financially. For example, some abusive individuals try to control their spouses by not allowing them to work, rendering them financially dependent. If there was a criminal conviction of domestic violence in the five years before a divorce, the court will presume that the convicted spouse should not receive spousal support. Spouses convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor still have an opportunity to present arguments to rebut the presumption.


If your spouse has been abusive, you may have the upper hand in several aspects of the divorce. An abusive spouse may often settle on advantageous terms when they want to avoid their behavior coming to light in a public courtroom.

We Are Here to Help

It’s important to know that you are not alone and that there are resources and help out there for you. Whether you are looking to divorce from your abusive spouse or need assistance getting a restraining order, we are dedicated to protecting you. Our attorneys at TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP have the compassion and legal experience you need to get through this difficult time.

Reach out to our lawyers at (310) 455-8364 to schedule a consultation today.