Colorado Family Law FAQ: How Does Domestic Violence Impact Divorce?

Domestic violence is an alarmingly prevalent issue that profoundly influences the trajectory of divorce proceedings. Specifically in Colorado, the implications of domestic violence extend far beyond the immediate parties involved, influencing crucial matters such as child custody and property division.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship and are contemplating divorce, or you have documented charges of domestic violence issued against you, it's paramount to comprehend how these circumstances may potentially shape your case.

This blog post will discuss the impact domestic violence may have on:

  • Child custody matters
  • Property division
  • Options for alternative dispute resolution

Keep reading to learn more.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody Matters

When determining child custody arrangements during a divorce, Colorado courts primarily prioritize the child's best interests. Evidence of domestic violence can significantly influence these decisions. In a situation where one parent has a documented history of abusive behavior, the court may determine it's not in the child's best interests to be left alone with the offending parent.

In some instances, the court may stipulate supervised visitation, allowing the child to maintain a relationship with the abusive parent but in a controlled and safe setting. In more extreme cases, the court may award sole custody to the non-abusive parent, aiming to secure a safe environment for the child's upbringing.

Courts typically follow established guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support, balancing both parents' income, the child's needs, and the time each parent spends with the child. However, this too can be influenced by domestic violence charges, as the non-custodial parent's visitation rights may be limited or supervised, potentially affecting the calculation of child support.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Property Division Decisions

In Colorado, property division during a divorce aims to be equitable and fair (equitable distribution) but not necessarily equal. This means that the divorce court will distribute marital property in a way that it deems just, considering a range of factors, including each spouse's economic circumstances, contributions to the marriage, and the value of the property.

When domestic violence is a factor, it can influence property division decisions considerably. For instance, if the court finds that one party has been financially abusive—controlling all the finances, limiting the other spouse’s access to money, or sabotaging their ability to work—it may award a larger portion of the marital property to the victim. The court may see this as a way to compensate for the economic hardship caused by such abuse.

However, it's essential to note that a history of physical violence alone may not directly impact property division unless it has economic implications. A family law attorney can provide detailed advice based on specific circumstances. Each situation is unique, and the outcome depends on the particular facts of your case.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation, often provide an amicable and less confrontational way to resolve divorce issues. Usually, these methods encourage open dialogue and cooperation between the divorcing parties to reach mutual agreements on contentious matters. However, in situations where domestic violence is a factor, the appropriateness of such methods can come into question.

If there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship, it may mean that power dynamics are skewed, making it nearly impossible for the victim to negotiate freely and confidently. This power imbalance can render mediation or other ADR methods ineffective or even harmful.

Having an Attorney on Your Side Can Be Invaluable

If you are divorcing and domestic violence is a factor, you are strongly encouraged to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss how it may affect the outcome of your divorce. Each case is unique, and outcomes vary based on individual circumstances. A family law attorney, like ours at the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., can provide detailed, informed advice on your various options based on the particulars of your case.

Contact us online to set up an appointment. We are here to help you and your family when you need it most.

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