Domestic Abuse how does it affect spousal support?

The topic of domestic abuse has been front and center in the media reports over the last several weeks with Amber Heard, Johnny Depp’s wife, appearing in court on May 27 with a bruised cheek and asking for a temporary restraining order against Johnny Depp.

Despite rumors of domestic violence, however, Depp has been spotted out and about with onlookers describing his appearance as “at ease” and “fine.” He even reportedly stayed out until the wee hours of the morning at a bar last week “chatting” with a woman.

Depp’s legal team has fought back against the allegations of domestic abuse accusing Heard of “cooking up the abuse stories” to influence the judge’s decision and hopefully encourage him to agree to Heard’s request for an estimated $50,000 in spousal support each month to help pay for her current marital lifestyle.

Will domestic abuse increase our spousal support payments?

So the issue of domestic abuse in a marriage raises an interesting question. In fact, on our legal forum this week we received a question about this issue. Theresa in Dallas asked, “I have been the victim of domestic abuse by my husband for five years. I have finally gotten the courage to leave and ask for a divorce. I am wondering if the domestic abuse I have suffered for all of these years will entitle me to higher spousal support payments?”

How is spousal support determined?

Spousal support requirements are specifically created to address the disparity of income after a divorce. To find out more about how spousal support is calculated in your state you will need to review your state’s family code. For example, California’s spousal support code is found in Section 3, Parts 1 through 5 of the California Family Code.

Some states have also instituted formulas to determine spousal support especially while the case is being settled. States will also consider a variety of other factors before issuing their final spousal support determination. Factors include the following:

  • How much each spouse earns
  • The standard of living of each spouse during the marriage
  • Whether one spouse stayed home and cared for the children
  • The educational background of the care-giving spouse
  • The needs, obligations and assets of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • The ability of the spouse to work and rear the children

What about spousal abuse and spousal support?

Although some states may not consider the fault of either spouse when considering certain aspects of the divorce case, domestic abuse may be an exception. For example, it’s clear that if your husband beats you that the court could also consider this when determining child custody. In some states they may also take domestic abuse into consideration when determining spousal support and property distribution.

With this in mind, however, it’s important to talk to a divorce lawyer to find out information about the laws in your state.

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