How Domestic Violence Can Impact Spousal Support

Each state views marital misconduct differently. For example, in one state, adultery may impact spousal support (alimony) and property division, but in another state, it may not matter at all. In California for example, if a lower-earning spouse cheats on their husband or wife and they ask for spousal support in their divorce, the judge will not deny spousal support because of the spouse’s infidelity.

In California, the purpose of spousal support is to ensure that one spouse does not become penniless because of the divorce. So, while deciding whether or not to order spousal support, the judge will look at a number of factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s income and assets
  • Each spouse’s job skills, and the market for those skills
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • A spouse’s contribution’s as a homemaker
  • A spouse’s contribution to the other’s education
  • How long the dependent spouse will need to become self-sufficient

While a family court judge cannot consider adultery when deciding to award spousal support, there is one exception and that is domestic violence. If an abusive spouse is asking for spousal support, the judge has every reason to consider any documented evidence of domestic violence between the spouses.

When the Recipient Spouse is Abusive

If your spouse has been abusive toward you and he or she asks for spousal support, you should bring it up to the judge during your divorce action. If there is convincing evidence of domestic violence, such as a domestic violence conviction and a domestic violence restraining order, there is a good chance the judge will bar your abusive spouse from receiving spousal support from you.

Are you married to someone who is abusing you or your children or both? If so, it’s critical that your rights are fully protected as you file for divorce. Before you say and do anything, we suggest you contact our firm and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation where we’ll discuss how best to proceed.