Domestic violence affects millions of Americans every year. Victims may be suffering from several different types of abuse, including coercive control, physical, psychological, or emotional abuse, harassment, and online or financial abuse.
Regardless, there are still some cases where victims end up having to pay alimony to their abusive partners. Enforced payments are usually imposed when spousal parties can’t agree on settlements, and it is left to the judicial court.
Here is what alimony entails and why some domestic abuse victims must pay.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is when a judge orders one spouse to pay the other during a divorce. The money is there to support whichever spouse has a lower income threshold.
The purpose of alimony is to give divorced couples a fresh start. It ensures that the lesser-paid partner can maintain a reasonable standard of living on a rehabilitative basis until they can regain financial independence.
There are four types, laid out as followed:
- General term: For an economically dependent spouse.
- Rehabilitative: To support a spouse until they can gain financial independence
- Reimbursement: To refund a spouse for contributing to the financial well-being of the payor spouse.
- Transitional alimony: To help a spouse adjust to a post-divorce lifestyle.
When Can Alimony be Ordered?
Alimony may be awarded if one spouse harms the other financially. If this spouse tries to cut off their partner’s financial independence, alimony is more likely to be given to the abused spouse.
Spousal parties can negotiate alimony, but it’s left to a judge to decide if terms aren’t agreed upon. A judge may enforce alimony. Then, if one spouse fails to pay, the other can look for judicial intervention.
If abused spouses cannot come to an agreement with their partner, the judicial court will make that decision.
The judge can only order alimony if the chosen spouse can pay the money and if the other spouse needs financial support. The judge can order payments in bulk or periodically and decide the following:
- How long payments will continue
- What the amount will be
- Whether the amount can be changed
- What can end the terms
These decisions can be affected by the length of the marriage, the spouse’s physical and mental health in question, their financial position, and more.
Domestic Violence Influence On Alimony
Domestic abuse can affect how alimony is treated and ordered. At present, the court can order which parent should pay for child contact and other costs.
It’s common for domestic abuse victims to pay for 50% of child costs alongside their abusive ex-spouse. Many domestic violence victims end up having to pay costs for child contact arrangements and are frequently left to face their abusers in court.
Victims often have a lack of meaningful choice when it comes to making decisions over alimony. Domestic abuse often limits victims’ abilities to participate in negotiations due to emotional trauma. Abused spouses may feel unable to express their needs and be quick to agree to the terms simply to escape their partner.
That’s how domestic violence influences alimony and why victims should seek professional help to ensure domestic violence is accounted for in court.
Every state in the USA has laws to protect victims of domestic abuse. However, while measures are in place, it’s still possible for victims to pay alimony.
In many cases, courts fail to take the emotional strain of domestic abuse into account. That’s why it’s important to seek legal counsel to protect yourself and your family. Someone who may be suffering from violent experiences may be viewed as incapable of making sound decisions in a court of law.