The Role of Domestic Violence in Divorce

There are a multitude of reasons why people decide to divorce. Adultery, financial infidelity, or just growing apart over the years are just a few of these reasons. Unfortunately, one common reason is domestic violence. Millions of Americans are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence includes not only physical abuse, but also emotional abuse, financial abuse, stalking, and threats of violence. Domestic violence can have a significant role in divorce.

A victim of domestic violence can request a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court. The TRO can provide that the abuser is not permitted at the home, not allowed around the parties’ children, and not allowed to communicate with the victim, just to name a few common provisions. After ten days, the parties will go to court to determine whether the restraining order will stay in place for a longer term. If the court grants a more permanent restraining order, that order can result in the abuser not having access to the parties’ home or children for a long time.

If there is a restraining order in place, that can impact even the procedure of divorce. The vast majority of cases are settled before the parties’ have a final hearing. Mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution are common tools that parties use to find common ground and resolve the issues. However, if there is domestic violence or a restraining order in place, meeting to resolve the issues is not permitted and is likely dangerous for the victim.

Domestic violence can also have a significant impact on child custody issues. This is true even in the absence of a restraining order. In any child custody dispute, the court will make an order that protects the child’s health and welfare. To that end, if one parent has abused the other parent, that will be taken into account. In fact, the best interest factors listed in the New Jersey statute specifically provides that the parties’ history of domestic violence shall be taken into account in forming a court order regarding custody. Note that the statute does not require that the abuser have a criminal history of violence or that this victim must have reported violence to the police in order for the violence to be relevant.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with family law cases involving domestic violence issues. Call us today and let us help you.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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