Going through a divorce is always hard. When domestic violence is involved, the process becomes even more difficult, more stressful, and - all too often - more dangerous.
If you are suffering violence at the hands or your spouse, you may decide that getting a divorce is the best, or only, way to protect yourself and your children in the future. But what about right now?
If you fear for your safety, talk to your attorney about getting a temporary restraining order through the family court. And, do your best to remove yourself from the danger - stay with a friend or family member. If that's not an option, a local domestic abuse organization can help you find a safe place, at least temporarily, for you and your children.
You may also want to file criminal charges. If your spouse is convicted of or pleads guilty to criminal domestic violence before the divorce is complete, your case in the divorce becomes much stronger - once they have been found criminally liable for the abuse, they cannot claim it didn't happen during the divorce proceedings.
When Is Physical Abuse Grounds for Divorce?
In SC, physical cruelty - even just one incident of assault - is grounds for divorce. And the incident doesn't have to involve physical contact - even if your spouse never actually struck you, you can seek a divorce on grounds of physical cruelty if you can show that:
- Your life was threatened;
- Your spouse intended to do serious bodily harm; or
- Your spouse's behavior puts you at risk of future serious bodily harm.
Prepare Yourself for a Tough Fight
This sounds simple and straightforward, but divorce cases rarely are - especially when domestic violence is involved.
Your spouse's attorney may try to turn the tables on you, and the family court judge will not necessarily be "on your side." The court will be focused on finding out facts, and your claims may be questioned in a way that can feel disrespectful. Your spouse's attorney may claim that you were the aggressor, or that you provoked the incident.
The court may or may not agree - but, even if they do, that doesn't mean you will be denied a divorce on the grounds of physical cruelty.
What Kind of Evidence Will I Need?
Because of these kinds of counterarguments, it is important that you work with your attorney to collect evidence. This evidence could include:
- Photos of physical injuries;
- Witness statements;
- Recordings of 911 calls;
- Threatening text messages or voicemails;
- Harassing social media posts;
- Medical records; and
- Police reports.
In some cases, a private investigator may help to uncover the evidence that we need to prove your claims in court. When needed, your divorce attorney at Axelrod and Associates has access to a wide range of investigators that we can use in different situations.
How Does Physical Abuse Affect Your Divorce Case in SC?
Domestic violence can affect the family court's decisions from the first temporary or emergency hearing all the way to the end of the divorce process.
If you have children, the court is unlikely to grant custody to a parent they have determined is abusive. In some cases, visitation rights can be limited to supervised visitation, and, in extreme cases, visitation could be denied. The physical abuse could also play a role in determining how to divide jointly owned property and awarding alimony.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, talk to your Myrtle Beach divorce attorney on the Axelrod team. We can help you take steps to protect yourself and your children - today at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation