Divorce proceedings are delicate at the best of times, but separation from an abusive partner carries a wide variety of complications. However, Rhode Island's domestic violence laws protect abused partners, spouses, former spouses, and partners in common law marriages from abusive family members during divorce proceedings. If the court has evidence of previous harm to the filing spouse, the court may require outpatient counseling for the victim(s) and issue orders for the education and support of the children.
How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce Proceedings
Rhode Island law considers domestic violence to be any crimes committed by one family or household member against another. Common forms of domestic violence may include assault, vandalism, burglary, stalking (including cyberstalking and cyber-harassment), trespassing, kidnapping, sexual assault, violation of a protective order, obstructing access to a telephone, unlawful entry, or disorderly conduct.
If you or your child suffered domestic abuse, you should inform your divorce attorney, so he can file for additional protections in your divorce case, including:
- Restraining orders. Rhode Island courts have the power to issue restraining orders when a spouse files for divorce based on domestic violence. The restraining order prohibits a spouse from attempting to cause bodily harm, menace, or threaten the other. Violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor offense and carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
- Child custody. Domestic violence has a permanent impact on family dynamics, and courts must take these accusations into account when considering child custody. Parents are required to disclose all instances of domestic violence—and any resulting restraining orders—as part of the divorce and custody process.
- Visitation. The court will consider a reasonable right of visitation by a child's non-custodial parent unless there is evidence that visitation would not be in the child’s best interests. In domestic violence cases, the court may order supervised visitation or even terminate a parent's right to visitation.
If you have suffered at the hands of a spouse, our attorneys can advise you on your next steps and help you make choices during a divorce that can protect your future. Please get in touch with the legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum today via our online contact form.