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How Domestic Violence Impacts Divorce Cases

4 Ways Domestic Violence Can Affect Your Divorce

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a primary reason for many New York divorces. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes, which is far too common. Although domestic violence can come in various non-physical forms such as emotional, financial, and psychological abuse, the statistic above is enough to exemplify the pervasiveness of such violence among couples.

Thus, it is not only important to take legal action against domestic violence but also consider how it may impact your divorce. The damage of domestic violence extends beyond the household, as it can affect divorce matters such as child custody, visitation, alimony, and equitable distribution.

Child Custody & Visitation

New York family courts make custody and visitation decisions based on the child’s best interests. “The child’s health and safety shall be the paramount concerns" when making a decision, according to the NY Unified Court System. The following factors are considered when awarding custody and visitation:

  • which parent has been the main caregiver/nurturer of the child
  • the parenting skills of each parent, their strengths and weaknesses, and their ability to provide for the child's special needs, if any
  • the mental and physical health of the parents
  • whether there has been domestic violence in the family
  • work schedules and childcare plans of each parent
  • the child's relationships with brothers, sisters, and members of the rest of the family
  • what the child wants, depending on the age of the child
  • each parent's ability to cooperate with the other parent and to encourage a relationship with the other parent, when it is safe to do so

Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence does not only occur between dating partners, parents, and children but also divorced couples, blood relatives, and in-laws. As such, a judge will make custody and visitation decisions after evaluating the criminal histories of such people as well as others whom the child may come in contact with.

Alimony & Equitable Distribution

The Domestic Relations Law § 236 includes domestic violence as an element for consideration when deciding temporary post-divorce maintenance, also referred to as “alimony.” In April 2020, the law was amended to include domestic violence as a factor for determining equitable distribution. The court must consider whether domestic violence was committed and its nature, extent, duration, and impact.

Essentially, domestic violence has the power to influence how much maintenance a spouse pays or receives, as well as the division of marital assets. A judge may award more alimony or equity to a spouse because of their suffering and subsequent limits on their earning capacities, household contributions, and ability to obtain meaningful employment.

Providing Legal Representation for Domestic Violence Victims

Our Putnam County divorce lawyers provide honest legal assistance and representation for victims of domestic violence and inform clients of both the potential benefits and consequences of their available options. We intend to help guide clients toward making the best possible decisions for themselves and their children.

The Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC is here for you during this difficult time. We welcome you to contact us online or call (845) 605-4330 to schedule a consultation.