Our family law attorneys regularly handle divorce and custody cases that involve domestic violence. Domestic violence is generally defined as the mistreatment of one family member or intimate partner by another. The abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, economic, emotional, and psychological. Child and spousal abuse includes an act that causes serious bodily harm, assault, rape, false imprisonment, stalking, or an act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm.
Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life. The abusers may be well-educated individuals such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, or engineers, and their victims can be well-respected in their community or chosen field of employment. Domestic violence has no cultural, socioeconomic, education, religious, or geographic limitations.
While women are often the victim of domestic violence, men also can be abused. Approximately 1 in 10 men 18 years of age or older are the victims of domestic violence. Because of societal norms, many men are reluctant to admit that they are the victims of domestic violence and can spend years in an abusive before gaining the strength to break the cycle.
Domestic violence can have a profound impact on children. Children who witness or are the victims of domestic violence may come to believe that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts. Girls who witness domestic violence are more likely to be victimized by their spouses as adults. Boys, who see their mothers being abused, may learn to believe that women are not equally respected and are therefore more likely to abuse women when they become adults. Studies have found that childhood abuse is directly associated with becoming a perpetrator of domestic violence as an adult.
During a divorce or custody dispute, an abuser may try to use the legal process to continue the abuse as a way to maintain power and control over his or her former partner. If the parties have children, the abuser may use them to inflict harm on the other parent. Perpetrators of abuse often file frivolous lawsuits and pursue frivolous claims in family law matters as a way of keeping their victims tethered to them.
Divorce and custody matters that involve domestic violence can be emotionally and financially draining. Abusers, more often than not, seek sole custody of their children and make unreasonable demands and excessive false accusations against the other parent regarding parenting skills, mental health, sexual activities, and alleged substance abuse. The abuser portrays him or herself as the model spouse or parent and denies any wrongdoing no matter how great or small.
When the abuse is physical, the harm is often visible or easily documented. When the abuse is verbal, emotional, or psychological, the abuse is more difficult to prove in court, but no less traumatic for the victim. In those cases, experts in the field of domestic violence may be needed to explain to the court just how the victim has been harmed and what will be needed to protect the victim in the future particularly if child custody is at issue.
Cases involving domestic abuse are the least likely to settle and those that do, do not settle early on. Without the proper support system in place, the victim may allow the abuse to continue during the divorce or custody matter and may be willing to endure it after legal matter has resolved. Our family law attorneys understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship and how important it is to provide continued support to the victim during the legal proceedings. We offer advice and options to our client at each step of the way to assist in breaking the cycle of domestic abuse.
The family law attorneys at Brown, Goldstein & Levy also have experience in handling cases where a spouse or parent has been wrongfully accused of domestic violence. We understand the impact that such false allegations can have on a person’s livelihood, reputation, and family relationships. We fight to clear our client’s name.
When a child is impacted by an abusive relationship directly or indirectly, our goal is to protect the child whether we represent the victim or alleged abuser. We work with our client to devise a plan that is in the best interest of the child and use all available resources to implement a plan that minimizes any risk of the child being abused or witnessing such abuse.
At Brown, Goldstein, & Levy, we have represented clients who have been the victims of child or spousal abuse, as well as those who have been accused of perpetrating such abuse. Proper legal representation in these matters is important because a finding of abuse can have far-reaching consequences.