Domestic Abuse and Divorce (FAQs)
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS)
About domestic abuse and divorce
About 95% of victims of domestic violence are women. Over 50% of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for 24% - 30% of those women, the battering will be regular and on-going. Domestic violence affects people of every socioeconomic background, education level, race, religion, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and WomensLaw.org.
FAQs about domestic abuse and divorce
What is domestic abuse? +
Domestic abuse includes but is not limited to physical or sexual abuse. It includes both physical and non-physical crimes against a person. Physical crimes against a person include assault and battery. Non-physical crimes against a person include stalking or harassment. Domestic abuse occurs between two members of the same family or household. One dating partner can commit domestic abuse against another dating partner.
Types of abuse can include:
- Physical: hitting, slapping, shoving, choking, etc.
- Sexual: nonconsensual sexual intercourse, demeaning sexual acts, etc.
- Emotional Abuse: name-calling, constant criticism, putting one partner down, etc.
- Economic Abuse: withholding funds from one spouse, preventing the spouse to continue working or pursuing their education, etc.
- Psychological abuse: threats, isolation from family, etc.
My spouse abuses me or my children. Can I get a divorce quickly? +
Yes. A court can grant an immediate divorce if:
- the other spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of either of the spouses during the marriage; or
- after a contradictory hearing or a consent decree, a protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage against one spouse to protect the other spouse or a child of either spouse from abuse.
What types of domestic abuse will let me get an immediate divorce? +
I have a protective order or injunction against my spouse, will that help me get a divorce? +
It depends. If the protective order or injunction was issued during the marriage after a contradictory hearing or by agreement, then there are grounds for an immediate divorce.
If the order of protection is a temporary restraining order issued without a contradictory hearing, it will not permit the Court to grant an immediate divorce.
What is a protective order? +
How do I get a protective order? +
You can go to the local courthouse and file for a protective order. The clerk of court should have the correct forms available to complete and file. If you need help, there are organizations to assist you.
If I divorce my abusive spouse, will I get custody of my children? +
If there is a history of family violence, the Court should award custody to the non-abusive spouse. A history of family violence can exist if:
- there have been two or more incidents of physical or sexual family violence, or
- one incident of family violence resulted in serious bodily harm. Serious bodily harm means unconsciousness or extreme physical pain.
But the abusive spouse has the opportunity to complete certain steps and ask the Court to change the award of custody.
Even if the abuse does not fit the definition of a history of family violence, the primary consideration for an award of custody is the potential for the child to be abused.