Divorce and Domestic Violence

Bergen County Lawyer Knowledgeable in Family Law Matters

Divorce is a sensitive matter and can become even more serious when domestic violence is involved. For many victims of abuse, filing for divorce is necessary to protect themselves and members of their families from ongoing physical and mental harm. Meanwhile, people accused of domestic violence will likely face wide-ranging consequences in subsequent divorce and legal proceedings. Bergen County family law attorney Brian D. Iton has over 20 years of legal experience in these sensitive matters. He can provide trustworthy and compassionate advice to people seeking a divorce amid domestic violence.

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Divorce

New Jersey enacted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1991 to address the specialized needs of people suffering from abuse by members of their family or household. Specifically, the Act protects individuals aged 18 and older and emancipated minors who have been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse or ex-spouse, or member of their household, as well as individuals of all ages who have been subjected to domestic violence by a dating partner or former dating partner, or by the parent of their child or unborn child. Acts of domestic violence may include assault, harassment, stalking, criminal trespass, terroristic threats, kidnapping, burglary, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, false imprisonment, criminal restraint, and homicide.

New Jersey law allows a victim of domestic violence the right to file a criminal complaint as well as initiate civil proceedings for a temporary or permanent restraining order. The restraining order issued by the court will vary with the specific facts of each situation, and it may provide for restraints against contact between the parties and address any financial and parenting matters. A finding of domestic violence by the court may prevent the defendant from entering the parties’ residence or having contact with his or her children, at least temporarily.

Domestic violence may affect divorce proceedings, child custody arrangements, and visitation, as well as resulting in criminal charges. For example, a parent who has obtained a domestic violence restraining order may be awarded temporary custody of a child until after the custody hearing. In subsequent child custody determinations, the court is required to consider several statutory factors, which include any history of domestic violence, the parties’ ability to cooperate and communicate, the protection of the child and parent from physical abuse by the other parent, the stability of the home environment, the fitness of the parents, and more. Evidence of domestic violence, therefore, can affect whether the court chooses to award custody or visitation to the abusive parent, or whether visitation must be supervised or limited. Parental rights may also be terminated in cases of severe child abuse or neglect, and in some cases they may not be reinstated.

Seek Guidance from a Family Law Attorney in Bergen County

If you are a victim of abuse, or if you have been accused of domestic violence, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can explain your legal options and protect your rights. Bergen County family law lawyer Brian D. Iton represents people in Hackensack, Paterson, Jersey City, and Newark, as well as other communities throughout Bergen, Passaic, Essex, and Hudson Counties. Contact the Law Office of Brian D. Iton by calling (844) 431-3380 or using our online form to schedule a free consultation.