Divorce is not a walk in the park, but it is possible for some divorcing parties to part ways amicably. Sadly, it may not be the same for marriages with a history of domestic violence. The result of the proceeding can be totally different from those without any history of abuse. Some parties, especially abuse victims, wonder if domestic violence counts for something during the divorce.
Does it affect filing the divorce petition?
No. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning spouses can file for a divorce without having to prove fault in the marriage. Therefore, in terms of initiating the divorce process, the spouses do not have to prove misconduct, such as infidelity or abusive behavior, for the courts to consider the case. With irreconcilable differences as the ground, parties can initiate divorce with less burden of proof.
How about property division?
Generally, Illinois courts do not consider misconduct when dividing property between spouses. However, a judge may consider a spouse’s behavior if it negatively affects the marital property. For instance, a party’s attempt to hide or waste marital assets, which is a form of abuse, can force a court to give them a smaller portion during property division.
Does it affect other parts of the divorce?
Aside from property division, a spouse’s bad behavior can also impact the court’s determination of child custody and parenting time. Illinois courts consider any history of violence toward the spouse, child or any household members in child custody cases because it poses a threat to the child’s well-being. If the judge finds that it is in the child’s best interest not to live or visit the abusive parent, they will award primary custody to the other parent and restrict or deny visitation of the abusive parent.
While you do not have to prove domestic violence to file for divorce, you need to provide sufficient evidence of the abuse before the court considers it during the divorce proceedings. It will definitely be a challenge, but with sufficient preparation and competent representation, you can face the divorce process head-on.