Is Domestic Violence Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?

July 12, 2020

Couples get divorced for lots of reasons. Most couples in Albany and elsewhere in Georgia simply say that they have irreconcilable differences. They don’t go into detail about why the marriage is ending. This allows them to maintain their privacy and the process can go a lot faster. There are also fewer legal fees associated with a no-fault divorce. However, you also have the option of claiming that your spouse’s actions led to the breakdown of your marriage. This is called a fault-based divorce. There are 12 fault-based grounds for divorce in Georgia and one of them is cited in the law as “cruel treatment”.

If your spouse is violent and they abused you or your children either verbally or physically, you can use this as grounds for ending the marriage. However, you will need to present the court with proof that your spouse hurt you. Attributing fault in a divorce can have implications for many of the things that have to be decided during a divorce including child custody and visitation. If you want to end your marriage to an abusive spouse, you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer in Albany.

What’s Considered Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to any type of abuse, intimidation or threatening behavior. While some people assume the abuse has to be physical, it can also be mental, emotional or sexual. The law speaks to willful infliction of physical or mental pain that that causes an individual to be concerned about danger to their health, limb or life. In Georgia, domestic violence includes assault, unlawful restraint, property damage, stalking, and criminal trespassing.

If your husband or wife is violent towards you, your Albany divorce lawyer can help you to find somewhere safe to stay while the case is ongoing. They can assist you with filing a petition with the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent your spouse from contacting you. You will have to show that your partner hurt you recently and they may hurt you again soon. If there is a protective order against your spouse, this can affect some of the decisions made during the divorce.

In addition to requesting a protective order, there are other things you can do to protect yourself and your children. Your lawyer will assess your case and guide you through the process of protecting your rights and securing your financial wellbeing. Each divorce is different, so you’ll need to pursue the legal strategy that best suits your situation.

How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce

Domestic violence doesn’t usually have a significant impact on alimony or property division. However, the courts will definitely consider it when deciding on child custody and visitation.
Under the law, parents must disclose all incidents relating to domestic abuse. Their history will be taken into consideration even if the abuse didn’t happen in the current relationship or affect the child in question.

The only way a judge will award custody or visitation to a parent who was abusive is if they’re sure that the child and the abused parent will be safe. To ensure the safety of the vulnerable parties, the judge may order that:

  • The parents only exchange custody in a public place
  • The child can’t stay overnight at the abusive parent’s home
  • The abusive parent can’t have alcohol or drugs during or before visitation
  • Information like the child’s address or school is withheld if it would jeopardize the safety of the parent or child.

If a judge believes that a parent has been violent, the court can also order that a neutral third-party be present during visitation. This allows the parent and child to have a relationship while keeping the child as safe as possible. The abuser usually has to pay any fees associated with supervised visitation. The courts are usually reluctant to terminate a parent’s rights. This is typically only done if the judge has clear proof of severe abuse or other extreme circumstances. The best interest of the child is paramount.

Contact Us Joe Durham Jr. P.C. to Discuss Your Divorce

If you’re seeking a divorce because of domestic violence or any other reason, you’ll need an attorney. Divorces are usually difficult for everyone involved and they can be particularly hard on children. At Joe Durham Jr. P.C. you’ll have access to a skilled, compassionate divorce lawyer in Albany. We’ll help you to protect your health and safety while also handling all the usual aspects of divorce like property division and spousal support. Call us today to set up a consultation with a member of our team.