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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:16 pm
There’s no doubt that your husband’s abuse towards you during your marriage will have long-lasting effects on you. Abuse by a spouse particularly affects the emotional aspects of your divorce process. Women who undergo abuse typically report feeling increasingly angry, resentful, and ashamed about both the divorce and the abuse they suffered through the marriage. But whether or not your partners’ abuse towards you will have any legal ramifications will depend upon several factors.
No-Fault Divorce States
California was the first state to introduce the concept of a “no-fault” divorce in 1970, and in 2010, New York became the last state to finally pass their own no-fault divorce statute. In cases of no-fault divorce, parties agree that nobody is to blame in the divorce and a simple case of “irreconcilable divorces.” In 17 states, no-fault divorce is the only type of divorce you can file; these states include California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Minnesota. These states do not allow you to prove that the divorce was your spouse’s fault due to his cruelty, as you can do in states that have fault divorces.
Dividing Your Assets
While being able to demonstrate your partners’ abuse of you may not make a difference when it comes to filing your divorce, it may still make a difference when it is time to determine asset distribution. This is not true of all states. Some states follow the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, in which property is divided equally among partners, regardless of the marital conduct. In states which are not affected by the UMDA, property distribution is based upon what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. In order to determine what percentage of property distribution is fair to you, you may be able cite your husband’s abuse of you during your marriage.
Determining Whether Abuse Caused Your Divorce
In some past cases, courts have determined that a husband’s abuse towards his wife is only relevant in the division of property if it is the reason that the marriage was dissolved. For example, in Mount v. Mount, the wife testified that her husband abused her for years, which resulted in hospitalization, stranger assaults, and an attempted robbery by men hired by her husband. The appellate court held that the wife was entitled to a larger share of the assets because the husband’s ongoing abuse was ultimately the reason for the divorce and therefore needed to be considered when assets were divided.
Claiming Abuse as Economic Misconduct
If your husband’s abuse has resulted in medical problems that may prevent you from working or may cause future medical bills, you may also be entitled to a greater share of assets. In Mosley v. Mosley, the court awarded two-thirds of the couple’s assets to the wife because the court believed the majority of her future income would go towards medical care due to her husband’s past abuse.
Determining Whether the Abuse is “Egregious.”
In some court cases, the presence of abuse through the hands of a husband was not considered severe enough to result in the judge giving the wife a larger portion of the assets. Michigan has stated that abuse is only relevant to property division if the abuse is “outrageous” or can claimed to be “shockingly unforeseeable.” Similar court results have occurred in Kansas and New York.
Arguing Abuse in Child Custody
While the abuse of a child is almost always relevant to child custody cases, your husband’s abuse of their mother may not be found to be relevant. The factors that may impact your child custody agreement include whether a mental health professional can testify on the potential long term ramifications of the child witnessing your abuse. Additionally, if your husband can claim that the child was never directly present when you were being abused, his actions may not factor into your custody agreement.
If you have been a victim of abuse and are considering a divorce, your best course of action is to contact an experienced attorney who is used to dealing with your state’s divorce laws. Divorces that deal with abuse allegations are often the most complicated and contentious, and having a skilled expert at your side is an essential step to ensuring that the process goes as smoothly and fairly as possible.
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