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Questions About Domestic Violence? Google “divorce lawyer near me”

divorce lawyer near me
Questions About Domestic Violence? Google “divorce lawyer near me”

Domestic violence is unfortunately entirely too common in our times. Domestic violence (DV) also known as intimate-partner violence (IPV) comes in many different forms, but all comes down to one partner’s need to control the other. It’s important to be able to spot when you are experiencing violence in your partnership and know what routes you have to end it and what effects it can have post-marriage. I have vast experience working with both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, and here are my thoughts.

How to get help 

First and foremost, if you or someone you know are experiencing DV you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Additionally, there are domestic violence centers all over New York which you can find through the national hotline or by a simple internet search by googling “divorce lawyer near me”.

A main myth about the DV hotline or DV centers are that you must “go into hiding” by reaching out. This is not the case. A lot of Centers have counselors to talk to, advocates to help you in a more hands-on way, a list of lawyers and other professionals in the area, and more.

Different types of abuse

While there are many types of abuse one can encounter in their relationship, the three I am going to focus on is physical, emotional, and financial abuse.

Financial abuse is often looked over when considering domestic violence but, in my opinion, it is a very common and important type. Financial abuse is when one spouse exerts control over the other partner’s finances by controlling the household spending, withholding money, or refusing to include the partner in financial decisions. The national hotline for domestic abuse provides examples of financial abuse such as;

  • you have a joint bank account, and your partner monitors your spending and yells at you for every purchase.
  • Receiving an allowance and only allowed to spend money on what is “needed.”
  • Your partner affects your ability to work/make your own money by causing you to be consistently late or preventing you from going to work some days, leading to issues or potential firing.

As you can see, financial abuse is not always overt and can take many different forms. Many partners report that the financial abuse was a slippery slope and started out very subtly. Marriage is a partnership, if you have joint accounts and share assets you should be involved in the decision making and be aware what’s going on. Know about your finances, do not be left in the dark. Search online for a divorce law firm that can help by googling “divorce lawyer near me”.

Emotional abuse is another subtle form of domestic violence that most partners don’t recognize as abuse at first. According to the National Hotline for Domestic Violence’s 2020 data, 95% of partners that contacted the hotline stated that they were experiencing this type of abuse. Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors that are meant to control, isolate, or frighten you.

A term that has probably been overused this year but nonetheless a useful term to describe emotional abuse, is gaslighting. An emotionally abusive partner often will gaslight the victim to believe that they are overreacting, misunderstanding, or just having a normal conflict in your relationship. Trust your gut, you are likely not overreacting or misunderstanding.

What is a normal conflict? In a healthy relationship disagreements and conflicts are bound to happen. (a national victim assistance organization) identifies conflict as “a normal part of any relationship and is a healthy way for two people to express emotions, identify an issue, and have a chance to talk through whatever issue is bothering them.” By contrast, they define emotional abuse as “nonphysical behavior that belittles another persona and can include insults, put downs, verbal threats or other tactics that make the victim feel threatened, inferior, ashamed or degraded.”

Lastly, there is physical abuse. While it may be obvious, it’s important to point out that physical abuse is any intentional, unwanted contact with you or something close to your body, or any behavior that causes or has the intention of causing you injury, disability, or death. If there is any indication of physical abuse, please call the police immediately.

Advice for victims of abuse

While obvious advice can be to call the police, get restraining orders, leave the relationship, I am here to give a different type of advice from a legal standpoint. Going through legal proceedings as a victim of domestic violence can be very traumatizing. Get a team behind you that you trust to help you both legally and emotionally. Lawyers and judges are not trained to deal with domestic violence (crazy, right?) so a lot of times they don’t understand the sensitivity of the subject, or the pattern of abuse and will victim-blame. Legal professionals are also very fact-trained and can have a hard time seeing past that.

During a trial or evidentiary hearing also remember that judges can only base their ruling on documentary evidence. Kate Anthony, author of “The D-Word: Making the Ultimate Decision About Your Marriage” suggests making a separate email account where you email yourself to document abuse as it happens. This will create a time stamp and help you compile your evidence of abuse to be presented. Pictures and videos of abuse help as well.

Look at Emmy-winning actress KeKe Palmer who was recently in the news for exposing ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson of physical abuse. Due to a surveillance camera in the home, Palmer was able to present the court with video proof of a physical assault that occurred on November 5. This also comes after he publicly shamed her online for an outfit she wore to a concert (callback to emotional abuse!). It is never too late to look into getting help from legal professionals. You can simply google “divorce lawyer near me” to find local legal professionals that can assist you.

Legal effects of abuse

Obviously, there are criminal implications and consequences of domestic violence. But what else? How does it effect a divorce proceeding or a custody proceeding? Here’s how.

When filing for divorce you must allege a “grounds” for divorce. In New York, there is a “no-fault” ground, which is what most divorces are filed as. Courts can consider domestic violence when it comes to property and debt distribution in New York. This means that during the equitable distribution of property, the court can consider how the abuse may have caused a spouse to contribute to the marriage, therefore awarding them more equitably.

This goes hand in hand with awarding alimony, also known as spousal maintenance. While maintenance is not intended to be a punishment, but more of a way to assist the less-monied spouse after separation, it can be used to help the abused spouse. Courts can look at how the abuse impacted the victim spouse’s financial ability to be self-supporting due to the domestic violence, and award them spousal maintenance.

And of course, then there’s custody. I could write an entire article solely on domestic violence and custody, but I’ll stick to the basics. Custody is determined by the best interest of the children. However, a history of domestic violence will have a negative inference on the abusive spouse and lead the court to make an inference that they are not a safe person to have custody of the children. In fact, the court must consider the effect of domestic violence when determining the child’s best interest. See N.Y. Dom. Rel § 240.

To allege that your child’s parent committed an act of domestic violence, you must prove that it happened by a preponderance of the evidence. Meaning, you must convince the judge that the incident more likely than not occurred (again, documentation is helpful!). The judge can also make a legal inference on the victim parent as well, which isn’t always fair but something to look out for.

A common example would be the custodial parent’s ability to follow a court order. If there is a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) put in place that protects you and your child from your abuser, and you knowingly allow them to violate it, the court can make a negative inference against you. Another common example is the custodial parent being in an abusive relationship with another person who is not the child’s parent. The court can look at this as a lapse in judgment and unsafe environment for the child. Again, this goes back to legal professionals (even judges) not understanding the complexities and difficulties of being in an abusive relationship. You can search online “divorce lawyer near me”. It’s important to have a legal team that you can trust and who understand these complexities.

Resources for Domestic Violence Victims/ways to help

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Hours: 24/7 Languages: English, Spanish and 200+ more through interpretation service
SMS: Text START to 88788

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Confidential support 24/7, available in most languages.
Call 800-942-6906 or Text 844-997-2121.

Safe Horizon

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE

Please feel free to call the Kleyman Domestic Relations Law Firm to further discuss your matter, and to see if we are the right fit for you. It is always important to speak with a lawyer you trust to gain perspective on what your legal rights and obligations are. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. We are here to help you!

Long Island Divorce Lawyer, Jessical Zelenka, Esq, is an associate at the Kleyman Domestic Relations Law Firm, handling divorce and family law matters in New York. Val Kleyman is rated best divorce attorney New York by his peers and many other attorney rating organizations. The Kleyman Domestic Relations Law Firm is located at One Rockefeller Plaza, 11th Floor, New York, NY. For more info go to, email: or call 212-401-1977.

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