Separation and Divorce When There is Domestic Violence

While it is said that marriages are made in heaven, separation and divorce are surely made in hell. The trauma of a breakup can be a damaging experience for the human psyche, especial if there is any domestic violence behind the marriage breakdown. In this situation, the physical harm caused to the body is more than just skin deep, and most couples will prefer to separate and divorce rather than attempting to resolve a basic breach of trust. However, this is frequently easier said than done as a host of legal complications have to be taken into account, especially if children are involved.

First, let us address the definition of domestic violence?

The court will consider physical abuse if your spouse has

  • Attempted to harm you physically
  • Successfully harmed you physically
  • Threatened you with physical harm or
  • Threatened, forced or attempted to pressurised you into having sex

Domestic violence also includes stalking, intimidation, withholding money, isolating a partner from others and all forms of emotional abuse.

If you are involved in a situation you feel might be classified as domestic abuse, there are a few steps you should take to secure your safety and the safety of any dependent.

  • Take immediate action – Do not wait for things to get out of hand, when faced with violence, take immediate action. Do not be afraid to call the police if necessary. Your local council authorities will also have information available to you on temporary safe shelters or advice on leaving.
  • Leaving the house – Your physical security is of paramount importance and only after this can most people focus on legal steps. Whenever possible, try to consult a property lawyer in Melbourne or family lawyer for advice on your property rights. Without further information, you may find that you cannot return to the property until the court has ruled and the property value divided. It may even affect your alimony situation in the future.
  • File criminal charges if necessary – The laws related to violence are very strict, and the abuser can be charged under several sections. These include Rape and Sexual Offence, Assault, Domestic Criminal Trespass, Communicating Threats, Stalking or Harassing Phone Calls. In any case, it is always recommended that you contact the police as soon as possible to investigate your legal position in these areas.
  • Preparing for a domestic violence hearing – This is very crucial as it is what will ultimately lead to separation and divorce proceedings and orders. At the hearing, the first thing that a judge will decide is whether to grant the victim a protective order. It will prevent the abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim at home, work or even in the street. In extreme cases, an order will also be issued to stop any interaction between the abuser and the children.

At this stage, you should also provide the court with a thorough and detailed history of your relationship with spouse including evidence of alleged past abuse. Take photographs of any or all injuries to add credibility to your case and submit time & date of when violence occurred. This will strengthen your case and enable you to receive the protection you and your family need.

There is much more than simply separation and divorce in the case of domestic violence. In many cases, your best step is to seek out a family lawyer who is experienced in domestic abuse, who will not only represent you in court, but they will provide you detailed advice tailored to your situation.