When Domestic Violence is a Factor in Your Divorce

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on October 4, 2019

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a factor in many divorces.  For many, it actually represents the impetus for someone deciding that they can’t stay married. As the country marks this month as “Domestic Violence Month,” it’s obviously no cause for celebration.

Research shows that Tennessee became the first state to outlaw “wife-beating.” While that may be true, it hasn’t stopped the state from consistently making it the top 10 states with a high incidence of domestic violence.

It’s a nationwide crisis, with shocking statistical data. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

All things considered, the statistical data on men and domestic violence may even be low. Often, men hesitate to report acts of domestic violence. They may feel it takes away from how others will perceive them.

In the meantime, it’s critical to understand the laws of domestic violence in Tennessee. For starters, you’ll want to understand what the courts do to protect victims.

Domestic Violence: A Breakdown

In the first place, you should know that domestic violence laws don’t just pertain to altercations with a current or former spouse. However, this discussion is focused on divorced or divorcing couples. You could be a victim if you’re still living with your husband or wife. By the same token, you could be divorced for decades and have problems.

First, if a current or former spouse assaults you, it is considered “domestic assault.”  In case you’re not certain what constitutes assault, it is defined in the law at  TN Code § 39-13-101.  It consists of:

(1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;

(2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or

(3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

As you might guess, any type of domestic assault comes with criminal charges. And, of course, related penalties. Among other things, it could include jail time and losing the right to possess firearms.

In the meantime, the victim may request a protection order from the court. For anyone in the process of getting a divorce experiencing domestic assault, it makes sense to speak with an experienced family law attorney. The same is true if someone applies for an order of protection, claiming you as the abuser.

Without question, one of the consequences of domestic violence situations involves difficulties in negotiating issues. They can also impact child custody and parenting time arrangements. The court will always look to the best interests of the children.

Contact Us

If domestic violence becomes part of your divorce, Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, will be available to help you through the process.  Call us to schedule an appointment.

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