Scared woman

Divorcing an Abusive Spouse: What You Need to Know

Each year, there are over 100,000 reported domestic violence incidents in Florida, and millions more are reported across the United States. In many of these cases, it leads to a divorce.

How does domestic violence affect a Florida divorce? Although the Sunshine State allows for no-fault divorces, family laws are designed to protect victims of household abuse and work in a victim’s favor in terms of a divorce settlement.

Divorces are rarely easy, but adding domestic violence adds a layer of consideration, including your safety. With some guidance, legal help, and steadfast support, a divorce from an abusive spouse is entirely possible.

Prepare a Safety Plan

In a typical divorce, there will be tempers and strong emotions involved, but there isn’t a threat of domestic violence. In these types of cases, the parties go through mediation, negotiation, collaboration, or litigation.

The most important part of domestic violence divorces is planning a strategic exit before telling your spouse the marriage is over to protect your well-being and safety. It’s smart to document as much of the abuse as possible, including pictures and even filing police reports, if possible. All of this will help when you take the first step of filing for divorce safely. If you don’t have any income or money of your own, it will be helpful to open an account in your name to try to build an emergency fund.

Wait until you are safely out of the house and in a secure place to serve your abuser with the divorce papers. Do not tell your abuser where you’re going.

The Effect of Domestic Violence on Divorce

Even though Florida is a no-fault divorce state, and neither party is legally required to prove their partner did anything wrong to be eligible to separate, domestic violence still plays a role in the proceedings.

Child Custody

If you share children with your abuser, custody and visitation may be your main concern. Courts make these decisions based on the best interests of the child. This means that history, evidence, or conviction of domestic violence may work out in your favor. The judge will consider your safety and your child’s when deciding visitation or parental responsibilities.


In most cases, judges do not consider fault when awarding spousal support. However, domestic violence can have an indirect impact on alimony. If abuse played a factor in adversely affecting the victim’s income, earning capacity, or employability, it could then have an effect on the spousal support award.

Property Division

Florida is an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing marital property, but this does not necessarily mean equal. Similar to alimony, a judge does not consider domestic violence when dividing property, but any indirect effects (long-term injuries or financial losses) of the abuse may be relevant.

Contact a Lawyer at Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa

If you are in this situation and you’re taking the brave steps to get out of a destructive relationship, we are here to help you. It’s not an easy road to take, but there is a path to happiness that we can guide you to. Our attorneys at Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa will get you protection from your abuser through an injunction so that you can feel safe once again.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us to get protection. Give us a call at (305) 853-9161 to schedule a consultation today.