How Domestic Abuse Affects Divorce and Child Custody Cases in Maryland

stressed woman in need of a domestic violence lawyer

Across Maryland, countless families are impacted by domestic abuse. Whether suffering from emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse, the effects on the family can be dire. In divorce and child custody cases, allegations of these behaviors can have a significant influence on the legal proceedings. If you or your children are in this situation, you must understand your rights and seek proper legal guidance. Here we’re going to discuss how a domestic violence lawyer can help survivors through the legal complexities, safeguard their rights, and protect the well-being of survivors and their children. 

Understanding Domestic Abuse in the Legal Context

Under Maryland law, “Domestic violence is the mistreatment of one family member or intimate partner by another.” In addition to physical abuse, this may include sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse. Often there’s a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over a spouse, child, or intimate partner. However, it can be hard to prove these types of abuse cases in a courtroom. The abuse is often hidden, and there may not be enough tangible evidence to substantiate the victim’s claim. A domestic violence lawyer can give you the counsel and support you need.

Domestic Abuse and Divorce Proceedings

When sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or other forms of inter-family abuse are taking place, divorce proceedings will likely become much more complex. In addition to the Psychological toll the victims suffer, they also have to understand how to handle complicated legal ramifications. These can include asset division, alimony, and obtaining protective orders for their safety. Victims need to know their rights, and they should seek legal guidance quickly to receive fair treatment and protection throughout the divorce process. At Meiselman, Helfant, & Wills, we’re here to offer sound legal advice and to represent you in a court of law.

Division of Assets

In Maryland, domestic violence can have a significant effect on how the court decides to divide and distribute marital assets. According to the law, courts may take into account factors such as the abusive spouse’s financial control, economic disparities that are a result of the abuse, and the overall ability the victim has had to secure a fair share of marital assets.


When deciding on spousal support, legally referred to as “alimony,” courts take into consideration the effects the abuse has had on the victim’s financial independence and ability to earn income. Maryland courts recognize the abusive spouse’s control over the victimized spouse may have meant they were not allowed to work, and any money they did receive could have been taken by their spouse. By preventing the victimized spouse from working, the abusive partner may have caused them to be absent from the workforce for an extended time, resulting in a lack of recent industry-related experience and education. As a result, they may now find themselves without sufficient funds, which could lead to job search difficulties. Survivors of domestic violence need to have legal counsel to help them understand their legal rights and options so they will have the financial resources they need to live independently.

Impact of Domestic Abuse on Child Custody 

Domestic abuse also significantly influences how child custody arrangements are determined during a divorce case. When making custody decisions, Maryland courts prioritize the best interest of the child. This includes taking into account any history of domestic abuse, and may result in supervised visitation, denial of joint custody, or the issuance of protective orders to protect the child from harm.

Protective Orders and Legal Recourse

Whether suffering from physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, or sexual abuse, victims should contact a domestic violence lawyer and seek protection and legal recourse as quickly as possible. A domestic violence lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, offering support and advocating for your rights in court. 

Here in Maryland, a court may issue a protective order that’s specifically designed to stop abusers from being able to contact or approach their victims. This may give you security both for yourself and also for your children. Courts issue these legal documents to help protect victims from abuse or further harassment. Generally, it establishes a boundary between abusers and those they’ve hurt by dictating how far away the abuser must stay from those they’ve abused. 

Know Your Rights

If you are preparing to divorce an abusive partner, you will need proper legal representation from experienced domestic violence lawyers. By understanding your rights and legal options, you can take the necessary proactive steps and protect yourself and your children from further harm.

Remember, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to help you get through these challenging circumstances. If you’re looking for a domestic violence lawyer, Meiselman Helfant & Wills is here to answer all of your questions and help you through these difficult times. Contact us today!

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