Domestic violence is a very real problem in California, and many divorces involve very real accusations of horrific and traumatic domestic abuse. Which is why it can feel extremely alarming and anxiety-inducing when your spouse accuses you of domestic violence during the process of your California divorce based on exaggerated or simply untrue allegations, as we have all seen that mere accusations – whether truthful or not – can have a devastating impact on a person’s reputation.
While there is no doubt that any false accusation of domestic violence in a divorce (or at any time for that matter) is going to be damaging on at least an emotional level, how you respond to false or exaggerated allegations can have a big impact on your future, from your relationship with your children to your finances.
How a Domestic Violence Accusation Does and Does Not Affect Your Divorce
First off, it is important to understand just what a domestic violence accusation will mean in the context of a divorce. Of course, no one wants the inaccurate reputation of being an abuser to proliferate, but it does not affect all areas of your divorce.
California is a no-fault divorce state, and while abuse used to be grounds for divorce pre-1970, courts no longer decide “whose fault” the divorce is. When it comes to dividing your property, your property will likely still be divided in the same manner as if no allegations were made.
If you do not have children, then the area in which domestic violence might rear its head is with regard to spousal support. The presence of domestic violence is one of numerous factors that the court will analyze in determining spousal support, along with both spouses’ financial income, property, needs and expenses, and so on.
The biggest issue that domestic violence will likely affect in a divorce involving children is custody. A court making a custody determination will always seek to act in the best interests of the child, and a key aspect of that analysis is shielding the child from domestic violence. At the same time, however, a court will want the child to maintain an ongoing relationship with both parents and will not look kindly upon a spouse who makes false allegations of domestic abuse to prevent a child from having contact with the other parent.
Don’t Take the Bait and Let Your Attorney Do the Talking
If your partner is making false allegations of domestic violence, the temptation is to make loud and angry arguments against them. But think about that. If your spouse is lying and he or she knows it, then what good is yelling and screaming going to do to change their mind?
In fact, it is not out of the question that the spouse may be making false allegations as a way of riling you up so that you do something stupid in response which serves to give him or her the evidence they need to actually show domestic violence.
If your spouse is sending you allegations by text or email or voice mail, you can calmly ask them to stop spreading false allegations about you, but further engaging with them may only make things worse.
In the end, a family court judge – and specifically a judge who has no doubt seen actual evidence of substantiated domestic violence time and time again over the years – will make the decisions key to your divorce (e.g. custody). Allow your attorney to plead your case to the judge in a manner that best states your case and furthers your interest without inflicting further damage.
Legal Guidance in Your California Divorce Matter
To schedule a consultation regarding your situation and any questions you have about divorce and other family law matters in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today.