Does Domestic Violence Affect a Divorce Settlement in Florida?
Domestic violence can directly or indirectly impact certain aspects of a divorce settlement such as child custody, alimony, and even property division.
Each year, more than 100,000 cases of domestic violence (DV) are reported to authorities in Orlando and other parts of Florida. However, the real number of incidences of domestic violence in the state is much higher because DV remains one of the most underreported crimes in the country.
In some cases, DV becomes a primary or secondary reason for one spouse to file for divorce. Both the victim and the abuser may wonder how domestic violence will affect their divorce settlement.
Since each case is unique, you should speak with an Orlando divorce attorney at Sean Smallwood, P.A., to find out how domestic violence may affect various aspects of your divorce settlement in Florida.
How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody
Domestic violence can have a direct impact on child custody and parent visitation arrangements. In Florida, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration for judges who award child custody.
Although Florida’s family law provides that shared parental responsibility is ideal for a child’s upbringing, the judge will most likely award sole legal custody when the other parent’s behavior or conduct could adversely affect the child. Such behavior and conduct include:
- Allegations or conviction of domestic violence
- Evidence of domestic violence
- Child abuse or neglect
- A history of conduct that endangered the child’s health or safety
However, parents who have been accused or convicted of DV may still be awarded visitation time even if the other parent gets sole legal custody. When domestic violence comes into play, judges will consider the safety of both the abused parent and child to award child custody and establish visitation arrangements properly.
How Domestic Violence Influences Alimony (Spousal Support)
When determining alimony awards after a divorce, judges in Florida consider a variety of factors to ensure that an arrangement is fair and equitable. Although Florida courts typically do not take into account spouses’ fault, domestic violence may have an indirect impact on the spousal support award.
When evaluating whether one spouse needs and the other spouse can afford spousal support, judges will consider each spouse’s emotional and physical health, earning capacity, education, and employability. If domestic violence has negatively affected any of these factors, it can either increase or decrease alimony payments.
Does Domestic Violence Affect Property Division?
In Florida, marital property is divided between the spouses “equitably,” which does not necessarily mean equally. Quite a few factors influence equitable property division in Florida.
Although domestic violence might not directly affect how property is divided between the spouses, judges might consider any secondary effects from DV, including temporary or permanent physical, psychological, or emotional harm, diminished earning capabilities, financial losses, and other factors.
Domestic violence in the course of the marriage can bring many complications into the divorce process, which is why it is recommended to consult an Orlando divorce attorney. Here at the office of Sean Smallwood, P.A., our divorce lawyers are determined to reach fair settlements on behalf of our clients.
Call our attorneys at 407-574-6155 or complete the contact form to receive a free consultation.