Can Domestic Violence Affect an Alimony Award in California?


No one likes to discuss domestic violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a serious issue in many marriages and is a significant part of the reason that people get divorced. When they come to us for help, many people wonder whether the fact that domestic violence occurred during their marriage will affect the way in which the court determines alimony (also known as spousal support) in their case.

Courts are Required to Consider Domestic Violence

While California does recognize “no fault” divorce, that does not mean that a court will not consider the conduct of the parties when making determinations about issues like spousal support or child custody. Under California law, courts must consider “documented” domestic violence when making determinations regarding permanent spousal support. In addition, when one spouse was convicted of domestic violence against his or her spouse in the last five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that the spouse who committed the domestic violence is not entitled to spousal support at all. A rebuttable presumption means that the court will presume that the spouse who committed domestic violence should not receive spousal support unless he or she presents evidence to the contrary.

Whether You’re Seeking Alimony or Fighting It, You Should Retain an Attorney

There are two scenarios under California law in which domestic violence can affect the way the court determines spousal support. These are as follows:

• A person accused or convicted of domestic violence is seeking alimony
• A person against whom domestic violence was committed is seeking not to pay alimony

If you find yourself in either scenario, you need to retain legal counsel as soon as you can. If you’ve been accused or convicted of domestic violence, it’s critical that you address the issue head-on and prepare to submit evidence to the court as to why you should receive alimony. Importantly, if you’ve been convicted of a crime related to domestic violence in the past five years, it is possible to overcome the presumption against you receiving spousal support, but you’ll need to present a compelling argument. On the other hand, if you’re requesting that the court not order you to pay your soon-to-be ex spousal support, it’s critical that you have evidence that domestic violence did, in fact, occur.

Call Irwin & Irwin LLP Today to Speak with a California Divorce Attorney

If you are considering a divorce or have already started the process, it’s imperative that you speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. The guidance of an experienced divorce attorney can protect your legal rights and ensure that your divorce is brought to the best resolution possible. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 714-222-3992 or send us an email through our online contact form.