WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | MAY 2022 70 THOUGHT LEADER - ELIZABETH VOORHEES How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce Proceedings Though the issue of domestic violence continues to grow more visible, the practical steps necessary to overcome the threat it poses remain fraught with difficulties, particularly when victims attempt to separate from their abusive partners. In this feature we hear from Elizabeth Voorhees, a family law attorney and a specialist in domestic violence issues, on the challenges that violent abuse creates during divorce proceedings and how legal counsel can best equip victims to handle them. temporary or permanent spousal support to the abusive spouse which would be otherwise available to him/her should not be made. This protects spouses who are abused from having to pay monthly spousal support to their abusers. In what ways might this impact custody disputes? The code section related to the DVPA cell phone to “punish” them for straying out of bounds and isolating the partner from friends and family in an attempt to seize control over all their social interactions. In what ways can domestic violence and other criminal actions affect proceedings related to divorce? There are several California Family Code sections that pertain specifically to different outcomes in awards of child custody and spousal support. For example, in Cal. Fam. Code §4320, there are 23 different factors the Court must consider when deciding whether and how much to award spousal support to a lower-earning spouse. One of those factors specifically addresses any domestic violence history in the marriage. Cal. Fam. Code §4325 (a) provides that if the lower-earning spouse has a criminal conviction for domestic violence within five years prior to the filing of the divorce proceeding, or at any time after that, a rebuttable presumption kicks in, affecting the burden of proof that any award of What are the key laws that define domestic violence in your jurisdiction? In 1993, California passed its own version of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, following in the footsteps of the federal Violence Against Women Act amendments to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which was initially enacted as Title II of the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984. FVPSA and VAWA give funds to shelters across the United States that meet certain criteria and engage in educational and awareness programs across the country, primarily addressing issues of domestic violence, dating violence and, more recently, stalking. In 2021, the California legislature passed SB1141 into law, adding crucial new language to the definition of “coercive control” in intimate partner and other familial relationships. Examples of coercive control include things like controlling the partner’s movements, monitoring mileage on the odometer of the partner’s car, tracking the partner via Seeking a restraining order against their partner often keeps spouses intertwined with their abuser in terms of repeated court hearings.