Domestic violence and divorce have a strange relationship with one another. On the one hand, legitimate cases of domestic violence can often lead to the victim requesting a divorce and possibly protective order from the state of Michigan.
However, it is also possible for someone seeking a divorce to try to use the protections for domestic violence victims to their own benefit by alleging that their spouse was abusive when it was really just an unhappy, unfulfilling or toxic relationship.
Given that the state of Michigan has a broad definition of domestic abuse that ranges from speaking cruelly to your spouse to locking them out of family financial resources, it may be possible for your spouse to allege and theoretically prove abuse even if you made every reasonable effort to be a caring and devoted spouse who never raised a hand in anger. How do allegations of domestic abuse potentially affect the Michigan divorce?
Domestic violence allegations can impact child custody
If you share children with your ex, their decision to allege domestic violence could be a tactic for them to request sole custody from the courts. Most of the time, the courts try to arrange a shared custody scenario.
If your ex seeks and secures a personal protection order, that may be an adequate reason for the courts to limit you to supervised visitation with your children. Additionally, you likely won’t have the ability to sit down with your ex and negotiate in that situation, as a protective order will also prevent you from contacting your ex directly.
Domestic violence constitutes marital misconduct
Some states have specific laws regarding property division that instruct the judge hearing a case not to consider marital misconduct when they decide how to allocate the marital assets. Michigan is not one of those states.
Marital conduct, including misconduct, can influence how a judge splits up your possessions and debts. If a judge believes allegations of domestic violence, they may allocate more marital resources to the spouse making the allegations and reduce what they allocate to the spouse accused.
Defending yourself against allegations of domestic violence both at the criminal level and when it comes to a request for a protective order can go a long way toward protecting you from an unfair outcome in your divorce.