A Guide to Divorce Where Domestic Abuse Is Present

Silhouettes of quarrelling parents and little child on white background. Divorce with domestic violence concept

Updated for 2019

No matter how much a marriage has broken down, there’s never an excuse for domestic abuse in any shape or form. Unfortunately, it’s something that occurs far too often within the sanctity of the marital home. In this post, we provide a guide to divorce where domestic violence is present. 

If you have experienced domestic abuse at the hands of your spouse, it’s not only a sign that your marriage is toxic, but by not acting, you also put yourself (and any children) at risk of suffering further abuse. Fear is a tool that abusers use to control their victims, which is why many people remain in abusive relationships. The only way to permanently distance yourself from an abusive partner is to divorce them and seek further legal action. 

Below, we’ll discuss domestic abuse and the options available to those looking to escape a violent marriage.

Prioritise Safety above All Else

Before we discuss the divorce process, the first and most important thing to consider is the safety of yourself and your children. Protecting yourself is vital at all times and, to do so, your best option is to contact the police. If your partner is arrested for domestic abuse but refuses to leave the family home, it’s essential to find alternative accommodation until the matter is resolved. Many organisations exist to help those in abusive marriages find somewhere safe to stay. The police will also provide you with a crime number, which will be vital if you need to prove to the courts that your partner has been abusive. 

The police may implement a bail condition that prevents your partner from staying at the family home, although this will usually be a short-term solution. If you don’t have any alternative accommodation available, you should consider an occupation order, which will allow you to regulate who is allowed to live in and enter the surrounding area of your home. If you are able to remove an abusive partner from the property, it will give you the peace of mind to continue with the divorce process without violent repercussions or additional stress.

Are You Able to Apply for Divorce?

To get a divorce in England and Wales, you will need to prove that the marriage has broken down. To do so, you will need to demonstrate one of the following grounds:

    • Adultery
    • Unreasonable Behaviour
    • Desertion
    • Separated for two years (consent required)
    • Separated for five years (without consent)

If you’re wondering whether or not domestic abuse is considered “unreasonable behaviour”, it most certainly is. Any form of abuse — be it physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal — will provide you with the necessary grounds to apply for divorce. If you have a crime number — or numbers — from previous abuse-related incidents, this will demonstrate to the court that abuse has occurred; a fact that cannot be disputed by your partner.

Hire a Specialist Family Lawyer

When it comes to legal matters, especially something as life-changing as divorce, your choice of family lawyer could be the defining factor that achieves a positive resolution. A specialist family lawyer will possess an abundance of knowledge and experience of situations similar to your own and will be your best bet for tackling the complex issue of divorce where domestic violence has occurred.

Are you a victim of domestic abuse who wants to apply for a divorce? Our sensitive and reputable divorce solicitors can advise and guide you through the divorce process and help to make the experience as hassle-free as possible for you and your family. Contact us today to discuss your case.

Clayton spent five years working in family law with a firm in Australia before moving to the UK in 1999. He deals with all aspects of family law, specialising in all family matters, offshore trusts, company structures, international law, prenuptial agreements, high net worth cases and cohabitation law.