Domestic Violence and Divorce

Some times, when a relationship is starting to crumble, emotions can run high. Certainly, there is never an excuse to justify committing an act of domestic violence on a spouse or a boyfriend/girlfriend. However, sometimes, situations arise and you find yourself baited into a situation you never expected or you do something impulsive and it leads to trouble.

Here’s an example: let’s say a wife suspects her husband is cheating on her. She goes to check his cell phone for text messages. The husband does not feel his wife has a right to check his phone so he goes to grab the phone. The two find themselves struggling to gain possession of the phone and in an instant, the phone smacks one of them in the face causing bleeding, a black eye, or broken nose, etc. Notice, I didn’t indicate whether the injured person was the male or female. This can happen to anyone! What happens next is anyone’s guess. . . the police may be called, someone may be charged with domestic violence and arrested, etc.

So, if your relationship is becoming increasingly volatile, the arguments are heating up, there is physical contact of any sort, etc., then you need to take steps to diffuse the situation. First, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you absolutely need to protect yourself and your children. Too often victims of domestic violence give the offender chances in hopes that he/she will change. Remember, domestic violence is not just the act of hitting someone. . . it can be intimidation, yelling/screaming, threatening, financial manipulation, etc. Nevertheless, if you are in physical danger, it is imperative that you protect yourself and your children by calling the police, pressing charges where appropriate and otherwise ensuring that the offender does not have access to you.

Second, I recommend you call an experienced Michigan Divorce attorney to discuss your legal rights. You will want to know what your options are before you make a decision to file for divorce, leave the home, etc. On the other hand, if you believe you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, you will want to talk to me about strategies to fight the charges. Certainly, the pendency of a domestic violence case will affect divorce proceedings particularly if there are children. I cannot emphasize enough, even if your arguments have not risen to the level of domestic violence, you must do everything you can to ensure your children are not witnessing such arguments. The emotional damage that can be caused to children who witness these sorts of situations can be life long.

Third, I also recommend that if you and/or your spouse want to be serious about handling your arguments appropriately, you should consider counseling. Of course, the counseling would ideally come before divorce proceedings or before a situation rises to the level of domestic violence. However, people who have allowed their relationship problems to get to this level often never even consider counseling until it is too late to save the relationship. Nevertheless, you and/or your children should consider counseling even if the relationship cannot be saved so that you can deal with the immediate emotions but also develop strategies for dealing with the upcoming changes in your lives due to the pending divorce and/or domestic violence proceedings.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how important it is to manage the difficulties of your relationship with maturity. Unfortunately, some people never learn this lesson. So, if you are a victim of someone who engages in constant games, abusive behavior, etc., understand that the court is not likely to change that person and you are not likely to “get what you deserve” in a divorce proceeding. So often I hear clients who are victims of the other spouse’s boorish behavior say “how can he/she get away with this?”. . . remember, it’s not the court system’s job to change a person. The person must want to change. The courts are designed for you to get divorced and allow you to move on with your life. If you go into a divorce with a vengeful mindset, you are likely to be disappointed. That’s not to say you should not fight for what you believe is fair when it comes to custody, parenting time and property division. In other words, if you are a victim of an abusive spouse, it is equally risky to have the “I just want this over with” mindset. Usually the best result is in the middle somewhere.

Call me to discuss your options any time. . . one thing I can promise you is that I am going to be straight with you. I always give my clients realistic expectations about the divorce process.