Divorce, always a challenging process, becomes exponentially more complex when domestic violence enters the equation. Sadly, New Jersey police said that state residents reported over 63,000 domestic violence incidents in 2020, which was a 6% increase from 2019.
In New Jersey, misconceptions abound regarding divorces that involve instances of abuse, leading many to feel trapped, confused or overwhelmed. Dispelling these myths is important for anyone looking to navigate such a divorce with clarity and confidence.
Myth #1: The abused must have physical injuries to prove domestic violence
Many believe that physical abuse is the only valid form of domestic violence. In truth, domestic violence encompasses emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse. Just because you do not bear visible scars does not mean you have not suffered from abuse.
Myth #2: If the abused leaves, they automatically lose custody of the children
The fear of losing custody of their children can trap many in abusive relationships out of fear for their children’s well-being. In New Jersey, the courts prioritize the child’s best interests. If one parent subjects the child to danger or an unhealthy environment due to violence, the court considers that when determining custody.
Myth #3: The abuser will face immediate criminal charges once the victim files for divorce
While domestic violence is a criminal offense, filing for divorce does not automatically lead to criminal charges. If you or your children are in immediate danger, consider seeking a restraining order and reporting the abuse to the police.
Myth #4: The abused must confront the abuser in court
Many fear the prospect of facing their abuser during divorce proceedings. However, the courts understand the sensitivity of these situations. Protective measures exist, such as requesting separate waiting areas or utilizing video conferencing, to ensure the safety and comfort of the abused party during hearings.
Myth #5: The financial dependence on the abuser means you cannot file for divorce
Economic control often plays a role in abusive relationships. However, financial dependence does not prevent you from filing for divorce. New Jersey courts can issue temporary orders for spousal and child support to ensure you maintain financial stability during the divorce process.
Domestic violence adds a layer of complexity and emotion to divorce proceedings in New Jersey. Knowledge empowers you to make the best decisions for your well-being and future. Always remember, support systems, whether friends, family or community organizations, can offer invaluable assistance during this period.