Understanding How Domestic Violence Impacts Divorce in Michigan
Domestic violence in Michigan is persistent and can affect families in deep ways that impact their present and future lives. False accusations of the same are also damaging. In divorce, both occur. In many cases, a cause for the dissolution of the marriage is domestic violence while in other cases, false accusations are made to exact revenge on a spouse or in an attempt to gain an upper hand in the divorce. In both circumstances, the effects are damaging to all involved parties.
At North Oakland County Family Law, our divorce attorney in Oakland County, Michigan, will guide you through the process, explaining everything you need to know to be safe and adhere to the rules. The latter is particularly important if there are children involved and one of the spouses seeks child support and/or child custody. Contact us through our website or at (248) 608-4123 to schedule a consultation and get more information on divorce and the role domestic violence plays in it.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Michigan?
The definition of domestic violence varies depending on the context in which it is used, and can vary by jurisdiction in the legal context. Generally speaking, it is an abusive act committed by one household or family member against another. In some cases, abuse that is not physical can be considered domestic violence. Examples include financial abuse, emotional abuse, isolation, and stalking. Also, there are different circumstances where domestic violence may be charged, including:
- When two people are living together and one is abusive toward another
- When two people share a child together but no longer live with one another
- A couple no longer lives together due to divorce or separation
When a person has been accused of domestic violence, there are several different ways their accuser may be able to prove their case.
Physical evidence tends to carry a lot of weight in proving domestic violence. Physical evidence can include photographs and videotaped evidence of the injuries. Doctor reports, items used in an assault (e.g., a weapon), and damaged property are also considered physical evidence.
If anyone else saw domestic violence take place, their testimony may be used to prove that the domestic violence occurred. This includes any police officers that may have responded to an emergency call to the place the domestic violence occurred. It can also include neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, and others.
Experts on domestic violence can provide evidence in several different ways. They may produce reports after examining the survivor(s) and analyzing the case. They can also help educate the judge and jury on domestic violence and how it has occurred and impacted the current case.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact Divorce in Michigan?
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state which means that a party does not have to state a reason or cause for the divorce, it does not mean that abuse and fault cannot be taken into account. Domestic violence can impact custody, parenting time, spousal support also known as alimony and the property division depending on how severe the abuse.
In Michigan there is a sixty (60) day waiting period that starts the date you file the complaint for divorce before a judge can grant a judgment of divorce and a six (6) month waiting period from the date you file the divorce if you have minor children together. This however does not mean that you cannot take action during that time. A domestic violence lawyer in Oakland County, Michigan can advise you on the best steps to take. In some cases, if you are the victim of the violence, you can seek a personal protection order (PPO). The at-fault spouse will likely be barred from returning to the marital home, and that may give you some breathing room to prepare for the divorce. There are also other steps one can take after filing for divorce short of getting a ppo against the other spouse.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact Property and Debt Distribution in Michigan?
Michigan is an equitable division state, the court will attempt to divide the property and debt in a way that is fair to both parties. In a community property state, the court acts on the presumption that all marital property should be split evenly between the parties.
No matter which standard is used, domestic violence may have an impact on the distribution. Courts will consider how the abuse may have caused the abused spouse to not be able to work, other ways in which the abuse affected the ability of each party to contribute to the marriage or the harm that was caused to the abused spouse.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact Alimony in Michigan?
Alimony, known as spousal support, is not designed to be a punishment. However, when the abused spouse is able to show that the abuse impacted their financial ability to be self-supporting due to the domestic violence, this may affect the amount or duration of spousal support if granted.
spousal support is awarded only when the spouse has a reasonable need for it. That reasonable need may have arisen because of the domestic violence, i.e., the supported/abused spouse was unable to work or secure financial independence due to or in part due to the violence.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody in Michigan?
A history of domestic violence may lead a court to feel that the abusive party is not a safe person to have custody of the children, or may feel that visitation must be supervised. The court will always consider the evidence and decide what is in the best interest of the child in that situation.
On the other hand, if one spouse lies about domestic violence and it's proven in court, the judge will look unfavorably on that spouse. The result could be a custody order that favors the other spouse. Thus, it is important not to accuse unless there is real abuse or threat of abuse.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Oakland Today
Divorce is hard enough without the added layer of domestic violence. But if there is abuse in the family, the courts need to know. There are ways to get help and protection. Our divorce lawyer in Oakland, Michigan is here to make sure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us at (248) 608-4123 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation today.