Domestic violence can affect certain parts of divorce proceedings, and it is important that individuals dealing with abuse or accusations get legal support from a divorce attorney with experience dealing with family violence.

Defining Domestic Violence

Each state may have a unique definition of domestic violence. Most states define the act of domestic violence as actions or intentions to harm a family member or intimate partner. Family members typically include relatives by blood and by marriage. Intimate partners include spouses, ex-spouses, romantic partners, sexual partners, and individuals who have a child together. In some states, domestic violence also includes harm or intention to harm a roommate.

Violent actions that can be considered domestic violence also vary from state to state. Often, it includes:

  • Acts of physical violence
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Isolation
  • Coercion
  • Harassment and stalking

These actions against a family member or partner often must be repeated to be considered domestic violence. In some states, one act is considered domestic violence if it is severe enough.

Filing a Divorce on Grounds of Domestic Violence

Some states allow divorce to be filed on fault-based or no-fault grounds, while others do not have the option for fault-based grounds. In states where you have the option to file on fault-based grounds, that does not mean that you have to do so. A fault-based divorce may be filed on grounds such as marital misconduct, extreme cruelty, or other grounds, depending on the state.

Filing for a fault-based divorce can provide some benefits, such as not having to wait out a state’s waiting period and securing a more favorable divorce order for you and your children. However, fault-based divorces are also more costly and contentious, and they often take longer to resolve. You must also prove that domestic violence occurred.

No-fault divorces do not require this proof or a claim that anyone is at fault for the divorce. This can make the process easier for some individuals who want to move on with their lives. Even in a no-fault divorce, domestic violence in a marriage can affect several choices the court makes. It’s important to have an attorney when bringing these claims to the court.

Domestic Violence and Property Division

In states where the court divides marital property according to equitable distribution laws, domestic violence may have an effect. Equitable distribution means that the court reviews factors about a marriage to determine a fair split of assets. Marital misconduct, the dissipation of marital assets, or the existence of a protective order may all be potential factors in this split.

Most states are equitable distribution states. However, if you live in a community property state, then marital assets are divided 50/50, with no consideration given to factors about the marriage.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

Courts determine child custody based on the child’s interests. If there is clear proof of domestic violence, this will impact how a court assigns child custody. This is the case whether the actions were against the child, their sibling, or the other parent. Any of these situations represents a danger or a dangerous environment for a child, and it would not be in a child’s interests for that parent to have custody.

Typically, the court will remove an unfit parent’s right to physical or legal custody and only allow them supervised or limited visitation. In severe cases, the court may terminate the abusive parent’s parental rights.


Q: What Is an Example of Extreme Cruelty in a Divorce?

A: Extreme cruelty may be grounds for divorce in some states, and it refers to either a pattern of violent or endangering behavior or one extreme act of cruelty. Whether a spouse’s actions are considered grounds for divorce will vary from state to state and according to the discretion of the judge. Some examples may include:

  1. Physical violence
  2. Conduct endangering the life or safety of the petitioning spouse or their children
  3. Threats of physical violence
  4. Abusive language
  5. Intimidation, humiliation, and other forms of psychological abuse

Q: What Is Considered Marital Misconduct in Missouri?

A: Marital misconduct in Missouri is any conduct that leads to the breakdown of a marital relationship. This may include:

  • Adultery
  • Wasting marital assets
  • Untreated and continual substance abuse
  • Domestic violence

This used to be grounds for divorce, but now Missouri only allows no-fault grounds for divorce. Marital misconduct can still affect other court decisions in a divorce, such as the division of property. Serious misconduct, such as accusations of domestic violence, may affect child custody as well.

Q: Is Kansas a No-Fault State for Divorce?

A: Kansas allows for both no-fault and fault-based grounds when filing for divorce. No-fault grounds are allowed on the basis of incompatibility, and spouses can file for no-fault divorces even if a fault-based reason exists. The two fault-based grounds in Kansas are:

  1. Failure to perform a marital duty or obligation
  2. Incompatibility for reason of mental illness or incapacity

Filing for a no-fault divorce can save time and money, and it enables spouses to file an uncontested divorce. Filing a fault-based divorce can allow spouses to skip the state’s waiting period.

Q: What Are the Fault Conditions for Divorce in Oklahoma?

A: Oklahoma recognizes 11 fault-based conditions for divorce, along with one no-fault condition. The fault-based conditions include:

  1. Abandonment for one year
  2. Adultery
  3. Impotency
  4. Pregnancy at the time of marriage by someone other than the spouse
  5. Extreme cruelty
  6. Fraudulent contract
  7. Habitual drunkenness
  8. Gross neglect of duty
  9. Imprisonment for a felony
  10. Invalid divorce decree
  11. Insanity for five years

Each fault-based ground for divorce has its own requirements for what a spouse must prove in court. The one no-fault condition for divorce is that of incompatibility.

Q: Does Indiana Recognize Emotional Abuse?

A: Indiana law may recognize emotional abuse as a form of domestic violence, depending on the unique situation and the discretion of the judge. State law defines domestic or family violence as:

  1. Attempting or threatening to cause physical harm
  2. Putting another in fear of physical harm
  3. The use of force, threat, or duress to engage in sexual activity
  4. Harming or killing an animal to threaten or terrorize another person

These actions must be done by a family or household member, and they do not count as self-defense.

Protecting Your Interests as a Father

If you have suffered from domestic violence, believe that your child is in danger, or are being accused of domestic violence during a divorce case, it is crucial to find a qualified attorney. Contact Stange Law Firm today.