Domestic Violence is involved in divorce cases quite often. Approximately one out of five of the divorce cases that we handle have some type of domestic violence issues involved and possibly even more than that. In situations like that, it’s basically about trying to gather the best evidence. It’s always a difficult situation when two people are behind closed doors and they come out of those closed doors and one of them stands up in front of the judge, raises their right hand and says, “This other person hit me.”
They are some of the hardest cases to deal with because for the most part, it is your word against their word. I would generally advise my clients if you have any type of situation where you fear this may happen do not be alone with your spouse in any situation. If you’re changing custody of the kids or passing off for visitation, have somebody present and available. Get a third party and make sure you have witnesses around at all times.
The worst situation is having a spouse who makes false accusations of abuse and this happens very often. I’ve seen people abuse the protective order system where they ask for protection for domestic violence and also at the same time, temporary custody of the children.
When this happens, it puts the accused person on the other side completely on the defensive. It is very hard to prove that something didn’t happen. If a person doesn’t hit their spouse but their spouse says it happened and he or she comes up with some corroborating bruises or other evidence, it puts the accused in a very difficult situation. I’ve had cases where I basically proved that a person had self-injured themselves so they could walk in front of a judge and show bruises to try to get some favorable treatment out of a protective order.
What Is Mediation? Is It Better Than A Divorce?
There are a couple of different types of alternative dispute methods. One is mediation which is basically where the parties are brought together in front of a third party mediator and they essentially discuss the issues and try to come to some type of resolution. Mediation isn’t binding; mediators generally go through specific training to meet with the people, point out that they have weaknesses in their case, and that they’re going to have significant legal expenses going forward. They try to get them to come to some form of settlement.
In a divorce, we always stress for people to get settlements. It generally does not work out in a client’s favor to forgo mediation and force a case to trial. There are some cases where there’s no option but for most part, people end up worse off l. The bottom-line is the court system really entices people to come to an agreement. If you don’t come to an agreement on children, the court will put in a very rigid custody arrangement in place.
A lot of judges I talk to say if everybody walks out of a courtroom unhappy after a custody case, they feel that they’ve done a good job. The hope is that next time the parents don’t go to court if they can’t agree as to what the custody is. It is the same thing as far as martial property cases. Judges have a tendency to handle marital property issues in the same way. There are a couple of options. Option number one is to value the property and figure out who has more property than the other. They try to even that out through a monetary judgment where one spouse who has more, pays the other spouse money that has less.
I find that more often than not courts just order that people have to sell other personal belongings; their houses or cars and everything on an auction market where they will lose the good amount of money from that item is worth. Essentially both parties end up losing when their possessions are sold in this manner.
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