Divorce and family law attorneys in West Palm Beach and across Palm Beach County acknowledge that in Florida divorce courts an abused spouse can request the court to take into account the violent and otherwise abusive behavior of the other spouse when determining time sharing of the minor children, in making an asset division, and for a separate award of monetary damages.
In domestic violence cases, victims of domestic abuse can use the injuries, stress and/or trauma they suffered as a factor in divorce proceedings. A recent case between the Fairchilds in Australia demonstrates one legal argument that an abused spouse can use.
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In the Fairchild’s case, while the husband made more financial contributions to the purchase and upkeep of the shared home, the wife was required to pay him less than half of the value of the marital home in order to retain it as an asset after the divorce. The wife may have made minimal payments on the home, but the trauma and abuse she endured during their seven year marriage made her contributions more significant. The law regarding the heavy contributions made by victimized spouses to the marriage and the marital assets was established in a family law court in Australia in 1997.
However, in Australia it only applies in exceptional circumstances of abuse. Abused spouses were disadvantaged before this legislation was enacted because escaping the violence took precedence for abused partners over obtaining a fair settlement.
Florida law applies to all forms of abuse. Consequently, abused spouses in Wellington, Jupiter, Stuart, and across Palm Beach County contemplating a divorce or who are in the middle of a divorce case, should inform their respective attorneys of any domestic abuse they suffered during the marriage. For a review on how family law is adapting to protect victims of domestic abuse in divorce cases, please click here.