Family Law & Domestic Violence: Quick Facts to Understand Your Rights

Woman in background holding head in hands with man with clenched fist in foreground signifying domestic violence

For many people, divorce is a sad time where heartbreak and fear for the future come into play. But as a victim of domestic violence, it’s an opportunity for a new beginning, away from your former spouse. Domestic violence is a sensitive subject and, for this reason, it’s vital that you understand your rights and consult a family lawyer.

Domestic abuse comes in many different forms, whether it’s violent, emotional, or sexual — and unfortunately, it’s a something that occurs all over the world. As a victim of domestic violence, a divorce is a very brave and admirable decision, as many people opt to remain in abusive relationships for one reason or another.

When abuse has occurred in a relationship, it instantly alters the fabric of the divorce case. Therefore, it’s vital to understand your rights to ensure the best possible outcome for yourself and your children, if you have kids. In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of the rights you have that your family lawyer should enforce, to make sure the proceedings are as hassle-free and safe as possible.

If Necessary, a Restraining Order Should be Put in Place

With divorces involving domestic abuse, the top priority is the safety of yourself or your family. Preventing your former spouse attempting to steer the divorce proceedings in their direction with intimidating behaviour is also essential. The solution to these issues is a restraining order, which could be put in place on a short-term basis to ensure a less stressful divorce, or long-term to give you the best chance of starting anew.

To some people, a restraining order may seem a bit much — especially as this can affect custody decisions and living situations — but doing so will prevent any influence on the abuser’s part and allow you to think with a clearer head. Avoiding them completely will prepare you for life without them and put your mind at ease for a happy and safe future.

Here at KMJ Solicitors, our team of family lawyers and have experience working with many clients during their divorce, some of which unfortunately included elements of domestic violence. If you’re unsure about how to proceed in the safest manner during a divorce, our family lawyers are happy to be of assistance.

You Don’t Have to Agree to Mediation

In many divorce cases, mediation is a beneficial option, as it means that both parties negotiate and divide assets without hostility or prolonged court battles. However, this isn’t and shouldn’t be the case in situations involving domestic violence. Mediation just gives the abuser a platform to gain your sympathy or implement intimidation tactics to make sure they get their way.

But not all cases are the same, and some people find the mediation process to be empowering, as it gives them an opportunity to stand up for themselves, which is often impossible in abusive relationships.

It’s our job as family lawyers to assess each situation and listen to you and your needs. From there, we will decide the best course of action regarding mediation and ways to ensure that your divorce runs as smoothly as possible.

Abusive Spouses Have Little to No Custody Rights

In family situations where children have witnessed or are aware of domestic violence, it can have a profound effect on them emotionally and make them feel unsafe at home. Custody is an aspect of divorce that raises many issues and will naturally cause hostility in cases where one parent wants full custody, especially when abuse comes into play.

If there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence, as the victim, there’s a good chance you will gain full custody of your children. Even if your former spouse has never abused your children, the fact that they have a violent and angry temperament to such an extent puts a child in an unsafe environment while in their care.

Right to Remain in the Shared Home

The family home is a place where you and your children should feel safe. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that it hasn’t felt that way as a victim of domestic violence. If this is a sentiment that you share, then your divorce solicitor has a good case for your former spouse to vacate the shared property. While this won’t be an open-and-shut decision by the courts, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Getting an abuser out of your life is the top priority, and it starts with getting them out of your home, with help from your family lawyer.

If your partner refuses to leave home during the divorce proceedings, then it’s a good idea to stay with friends or family until it’s settled. This will provide you with a safe and secure environment to carry on as usual until everything is sorted. If you have a restraining order in place, then the person in question may be forced to leave. By staying, they will technically be breaking the law, especially if you have children and are unwilling to force them to leave their home.

Are you a victim of domestic violence looking for a family lawyer to facilitate your divorce? KMJ Solicitors specialises in all aspects of family law, including divorce and domestic violence cases. Book your no-obligation consultation today to get the ball rolling for a safe and happier future for you and your family.

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.