Sometimes in particularly contentious divorce or child custody proceedings, one or both parties accuse the other of committing acts of domestic violence against the other. The crime of domestic violence in Michigan is defined as assault against a spouse, former spouse, a person with whom the individual has or had a dating relationship, the other parent of your child, or someone you live with or previously lived with. Domestic violence is distressingly common, and can be difficult to prosecute, oftentimes because the reporting victim fails to appear in court to testify or refuses to cooperate with the prosecution. Nonetheless, if you’ve suffered from domestic violence, we encourage you to call the police and report this abuse immediately.
Contacting the police and reporting any violence you’ve experienced—as well as following through with the prosecution subsequently—can have an impact on any current divorce or custody proceedings as well you may be going through as well. While Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that it does not take wrongdoing of either party for the court to grant a divorce, “fault” may have an effect in determining a spousal support award, which was once referred to as alimony. Additionally, criminal acts of violence, particularly when resulting in conviction, will certainly play a role in any custody battle or proceedings. A judge or family court referee will take into consideration the best interests of the child(ren) in question, and make a determination as to whether or not that child is safe with a parent who has been accused or convicted of acts of violence in criminal proceedings.
However, be prepared that mere accusations more likely than not will not be enough to influence family court proceedings. That’s because it is not the role of a family court judge or referee to make a decision regarding the criminal acts of another. Family courts have also become jaded by parties accusing one another of unproven wrongdoing in order to gain advantage over the other.
We know how sensitive these kinds of issues can be, and we’re here to help. If you have questions about domestic violence or any other family or criminal court proceedings, call The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz to schedule a free consultation today!