Your rights to divorce after physical abuse
Spouses should never have to live in fear of physical harm from their spouse. Any spouse who is being assaulted or physically abused should immediately contact the police to have them intervene. In many cases, the police will arrest a physically abusive spouse for domestic violence. In addition to criminal penalties, a family law judge may issue a restraining order. Divorcing a physically abusive husband is also something you should consider.
Is physical abuse grounds for divorce in New Jersey? Can you divorce a physically abusive husband?
Yes. New Jersey has no-fault and fault-grounds for divorce. Fault grounds include “extreme cruelty,” adultery, abduction, addiction, and other grounds. Extreme cruelty includes physical cruelty (physical abuse) and mental cruelty (verbal and emotional abuse).
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991
This law was enacted to help protect the thousands of people in New Jersey who are beaten, tortured, and sometimes killed by their spouse – including many pregnant women. There is often a correlation between spousal abuse and child abuse which can cause a lifetime of emotional scars in addition to physical harm.
The law defines domestic violence as one or more occurrences of any of the following:
- Terroristic threats kidnapping
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Contempt of a domestic violence order
- Crimes involving risk of serious bodily injury or death to a person protected under the Act
- Other defined offenses
Violations of the Act can also include verbal abuse such as constantly criticizing or humiliating a spouse and emotional abuse such as isolating a spouse or threatening to take away things that are important to you.
Police officers who have reasonable grounds to believe your husband violated the Domestic Violence Act should arrest your spouse.
Generally, the police must make an arrest of a physically abusive husband if:
- It appears that you or a child was injured
- An existing restraining order is violated
- There’s an outstanding warrant for your spouse
- There’s reason to believe your spouse used a weapon in the domestic violence incident
How does an experienced family lawyer help spouses considering divorcing a physically abusive husband?
Our skilled New Jersey divorce lawyers help spouses considering divorcing a physically abusive husband in several ways:
- We represent you at the criminal hearing against the husband to help you gather the evidence you need to help the prosecutor – such as photographs showing the harm and medical bills and reports confirming the seriousness of the injuries.
- Help persuade the trial judge that a restraining order is necessary. A restraining order can order that your husband stay away from the marital home, avoid any contact with you, and forfeit any firearms they may possess.
- Arrange to obtain a child support order against your husband while he is away from the marital home.
- Explain your rights regarding divorcing a physically abusive husband
We also assert that the evidence of physical abuse should be considered in the following key divorce issues:
- Equitable distribution of property. Your physical and mental health is a factor in the percentage of marital property you’re entitled to. Equitable distribution due to divorce after domestic abuse also considers that you and your children need to stay in the marital home because of your concerns about physical abuse.
- Child custody. Physical abuse by your husband should be considered in awarding sole legal and/or sole physical custody. If you are divorcing a physically abusive husband, then the visitation order or agreement should provide protections for you and your child such as arranging for a trusted person to exchange the child.
Divorcing a physically abusive husband may also affect alimony pendente lite and the various forms of post-divorce alimony because worries about your safety may affect your ability to earn a living.
At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our divorce lawyers understand the fear and trauma that requires divorcing a physically abusive husband. We fight to obtain restraining orders while the divorce is pending. We fight to obtain property division and child custody orders that help protect you and your children from further physical abuse. We fight to help you obtain the best divorce resolution possible. To speak with an experienced New Jersey family lawyer, call us at 908-691-2104 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.