Somerville Office
Domestic Violence

How Does Domestic Violence Affect a Divorce Case?

If you are experiencing a domestic violence emergency, call 911. For resources and other help, call the statewide Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-572-SAFE (7233).

There are many reasons why a marriage ends. Many unions simply stop working, but others are destroyed by domestic violence.

In New Jersey, abuse within families remains a problem. According to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, hotline calls increased by 37% and sheltered victims surged by 53% in 2021.

In recognition of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Lane & Lane, LLC would like to share statistics from the New Jersey State Police to illuminate the issue:

  • There were 63,058 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2020, a 6 percent increase over 2019
  • Assaults accounted for 41 percent and harassment accounted for 42 percent of the reported offenses in 2020
  • Arrests were made in 36 percent of the offenses reported for 2020, an increase when compared to arrests made in 2019
  • The most frequent day of the week for domestic violence incidents was Sunday, closely followed by Saturday
  • Children were actively involved or present during 14,930 incidents or 24 percent of all domestic violence incidents occurring in 2020
  • Alcohol and/or drugs were involved in 21 percent of the reported offenses occurring in 2020

Choosing to walk away from an abusive relationship is not easy. The decision is more complicated when it involves divorce. Our attorneys handle these cases with deep compassion and support.

Protective Orders During a Divorce

If the marital relationship is marked by abuse, filing for a protective order is an important early step in the divorce process. A restraining order (RO) can keep an abusive spouse from inflicting further harm.

A RO can restrict what an alleged aggressor does or says:

  • Prohibit any contact (in person, by phone, by email, by text, or any other means)
  • Forbid the aggressor from going to specific locations such as a home or place of work
  • Keep children from being in the abuser’s presence

A RO can also mandate the alleged aggressor take certain actions:

  • Pay the injured party for medical bills, missed work, and other costs caused by the violence
  • Make the abuser pay the rent, mortgage, and other household bills – even if they cannot continue to reside there
  • Order child support and spousal support
  • Require the person to attend professional domestic violence counseling

A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be requested. Based on the information provided by the petitioner, the judge will decide that day whether a TRO is warranted. The court can also determine the conditions of the TRO, which will stay in place until a full hearing in which the accused can present their side. The judge will then decide whether to rule for a final restraining order.

Impacts of Domestic Violence on Divorce Terms

Domestic violence can impact divorce proceedings, particularly in issues involving children. Courts must establish child custody and visitation orders in the child’s best interests. Depending on the circumstances, the restrained parent can be limited to only supervised visits with their children. In extreme situations, they can be blocked from seeing their children altogether. Visitation limitations can be lifted if certain conditions are met.

Someone with an established history of domestic violence will be unlikely to be awarded primary physical custody.

Property distribution and alimony are usually not impacted by marital misconduct, even abuse. A judge may award a larger share of the marital estate to the harmed spouse if the abusive behavior diminished the amount available for equitable division.

Legal Guidance for Divorce Impacted by Abuse

Divorce is inherently emotional, but that is especially true in sensitive cases involving domestic violence. At Lane & Lane, LLC, we deftly handle these difficult cases with compassion and tenacity. Family abuse allegations require legal counsel experienced in supporting the unique needs of these cases.

If you are in an abusive marriage and seeking a divorce, know that you have options. Schedule a consultation with us by calling (908) 259-6673 or sending an online message.