Domestic Violence When Divorcing: Does It Affect Your Divorce Case?

woman suffering from domestic violence

Domestic violence can have a significant impact on many aspects of a divorce case. The court will consider evidence of domestic violence when deciding issues ranging from permanent restraining orders to child custody to parenting time and spousal support. If you are considering leaving a marriage because of domestic abuse, you should talk to an experienced North Carolina domestic violence divorce lawyer.

Charles R. Ullman & Associates stands ready to help you. The North Carolina State Bar has certified Charles Ullman as a Specialist in Family Law, a recognition held by only a small percentage of divorce attorneys. Call Charles Ullman & Associates today or contact the firm online for a confidential consultation.

North Carolina Laws About Domestic Violence

North Carolina law (Chapter 50B) defines domestic violence as abuse or violence between people with a personal relationship. The laws provide victims of domestic violence with legal protections, resources, and remedies.

In North Carolina, domestic violence includes:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Emotional abuse

The law allows victims of domestic violence to seek a protective order. The court may issue an order requiring the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim and prohibit contact.

Additionally, North Carolina law provides other remedies to protect victims of domestic violence, including orders for temporary custody of children and orders requiring the abuser to pay for medical expenses, counseling, and other costs associated with the abuse.

How Domestic Violence Can Affect The Divorce Process

Domestic violence can have a significant impact on the divorce process in North Carolina. In cases where one spouse has been the target of domestic violence, the court may consider this when making decisions about child custody, spousal support, and property division.

A victim of domestic violence in a divorce may be able to obtain a permanent protective order, which can restrict the abuser’s contact with the victim and their children. If children are involved in the divorce, the court will consider the children’s best interests when deciding about custody and visitation. In cases where one parent has a history of domestic violence, the court may be more likely to award custody to the other parent or order supervised visitation to ensure the safety of the children.

In addition to child custody, domestic violence can affect spousal support and property division in a divorce. In North Carolina, the court considers many factors when determining the amount and duration of spousal support, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The income and earning potential of each spouse
  • The contributions each spouse made to the marriage
  • Marital misconduct.

What Are The Effects of Domestic Violence on Child Custody and Parenting Time?

Domestic violence can significantly impact child custody and parenting time in North Carolina. When determining child custody and parenting arrangements, North Carolina courts prioritize the child’s interests. If domestic violence is a factor, the court will consider this when deciding custody and parenting time.

If one parent has been the victim of domestic violence, the court may be hesitant to award joint custody or grant unsupervised visitation to the abuser. Instead, the court may award sole custody to the victim or grant supervised visitation to the abuser. Supervised visitation means that a neutral third party is present to ensure the safety of the child and the victim. Sometimes, the court may order the abuser to complete an intervention program for people accused of domestic violence before being granted any visitation.

The court will consider the impact of domestic violence on the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Exposure to domestic violence can have long-term effects on a child’s mental health, such as causing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The court may order a mental health evaluation of the child to assess the impact of the domestic violence and to determine the appropriate custody and visitation arrangements.

Will Domestic Violence Influence Property Division and Financial Support?

In a North Carolina divorce, domestic violence can affect property division and financial support. North Carolina courts divide marital property equitably, meaning that each spouse is entitled to a fair share of the marital property. However, if one spouse has been the victim of domestic violence, the court may award a larger share of the marital asset to the victim as compensation for the abuse.

In addition to property division, domestic violence can affect financial support in a North Carolina divorce. North Carolina law allows for two types of spousal support: post-separation support and alimony. Post-separation support is temporary support that can be awarded to the dependent spouse after separation but before the divorce is final. Alimony is a more long-term form of support that can be awarded after the divorce is final.

When determining the amount of post-separation support and alimony, the court considers several factors, including the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the earning capacity of each spouse. If one spouse has been the victim of domestic violence, the court may consider this when determining the amount and duration of spousal support.

How To Obtain a Restraining or Protective Order

To obtain a protective order, a victim must petition the court. The petition must describe the incidents of abuse or violence, and the victim must provide evidence to support the claims. Once they file the petition, the court will review the evidence and grant a temporary protective order if it believes the victim is in danger.

If the court grants a temporary protective order, the abuser will be served with the order and must comply with it. The court will schedule a hearing within ten days, and the victim must present additional evidence to support their abuse claims. If the court finds that the victim has been abused or is in danger of abuse, it may grant a permanent protective order.

Violating a protective order is a criminal offense in North Carolina and can result in fines, jail time, or both.

How Our Divorce Attorneys Can Help If You Are Affected by Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can complicate a divorce. The attorneys at Charles R. Ullman & Associates want to help protect you and help you navigate the complications of leaving a marriage marred by domestic violence. You can read our client reviews to see how they feel about us.

We’re open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 5:00, but you can call us anytime. Call today or contact us online for a confidential consultation.


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.