Domestic Violence and Divorce in Michigan

Freelance hands signs divorce papers at night

Spousal abuse is a type of domestic violence that occurs in a marriage. It can include verbal, emotional, mental, or physical abuse. Divorcing an abusive spouse can bring unique considerations and concerns to the divorce process.

If your spouse is abusive or you are concerned for your safety, you can request a protection order from the court during your divorce, such as a temporary restraining order. Additionally, you can let the court officers know that you have safety concerns prior to your hearing, and they will ensure that additional safety measures are put in place.

Generally, spousal abuse can influence a judge’s decisions within your case. However, when it comes to alimony (a court-ordered payment that one spouse pays to the other for a period of time), judges generally only award alimony to spouses who need financial support during or after the divorce, and they will not order alimony as a form of punishment for bad behavior during the marriage.

Judges will look at how the spousal abuse or domestic violence has affected the abused spouse’s ability to be self-supporting. In the alternative, it is sometimes possible for the spouse who was considered the abuser to obtain alimony from the spouse who claims abuse.

Michigan’s Laws on Child Custody

Each state has laws that determine how a court considers and decides child custody, this includes when there are domestic violence claims. In Michigan, the Judge makes a custody determination based on “the best interest of the child.” These are commonly called the “best interest factors.” And yes, domestic violence is on that list. The judge takes into consideration if there has been domestic violence in the marriage, regardless of whether it was witnessed by or directed against the child. However, there are things that you, or your attorney on your behalf, can do to try and get you and your children to a safe place and situation, such as a personal protection order, supervised visitation, and more.

Domestic violence and spousal abuse is not just something that can affect the outcome of your divorce, it is a crime. Divorce cases can encounter all types of domestic violence situations, such as new accusations where one spouse has accused the other spouse of abuse in the divorce proceeding but the police were never involved; an accusation without charges, where the police investigated but charges were never pressed; conviction, where the abusive spouse has been convicted of domestic violence or a violation of a protective order; acquittal, where the spouse was charged but found not guilty; or an on-going/pending case, where there is a current investigation or criminal case at the same time as the divorce.

If any of these scenarios relate to your situation, contact Tanis Schultz PLLC to obtain legal assistance. Having a record, report, etc. of abuse could support your arguments in favor of obtaining custody of your children and more.

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