A divorce can be affected by domestic violence in various ways, but the first thing to understand is that you are entitled to certain legal rights.
In Pennsylvania, domestic violence is an abusive act carried out by a family or household member against another. They do not have to be related by marriage or blood. The act can be physical but might also be emotional or financial. Some other examples include isolation, stalking, and not allowing the targeted person access to necessities of life like food and shelter. Domestic abuse negatively impacts a spouse’s health, safety, and well-being in a marriage.
It can be intimidating and frightening to confront an abusive spouse, but there are ways to handle it while prioritizing your safety. An experienced divorce lawyer can provide confidential legal guidance that can put you on the right path. It may be necessary to file a petition with a court to obtain a warrant for protection from abuse (PFA), which might involve gathering evidence and appearing before a judge. If you and your spouse share children and feel in danger, the PFA can help.
Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault or Fault-Based Divorce State?
Pennsylvania recognizes no-fault and fault grounds for divorces. Fault-based divorces focus on the reason (grounds) for the permanent separation, and there must be admissible evidence.
The grounds for fault-based divorces in Pennsylvania include adultery, the conviction of a crime, and “indignities” which make life “burdensome” or “Intolerable.” Domestic violence falls under the category of cruelty.
These are examples of evidence used to prove domestic violence:
- A record of law enforcement absence, like contacting the police.
- Eyewitness accounts of the violence.
- Physical evidence, like bruises and other injuries.
- Restraining orders.
What Else Should I Know About Domestic Violence and Divorce?
With fault-based divorces, there is no set period that the spouses must wait before the divorce. If there is a temporary restraining order, the abusive spouse might also be ordered to move out of the home and maintain a certain distance from the family.
Besides that, problems can arise when the abusive spouse challenges the PFA. If they disobey the order, the other spouse can contact the police and arrest the offender. This is a severe offense that could involve jail time. Always call 911 if you feel that you or another family is in immediate danger from an abuser.
Our Delaware County Divorce Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Support Divorcing Spouses
No one should have to deal with domestic violence. Starting the divorce process can be overwhelming, no matter the grounds. For a confidential consultation, contact our experienced Delaware County divorce lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Complete our online form or call 610-565-3701. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.