Finding Fault and Making Reparations: Domestic Violence Conviction as a Limitation on Spousal Support Award

Author(s)

Sarah Burkett

Details

Faculty editor: Paul Horton
Publication: Contemporary Legal Issues
Volume: 22
Issue:
Start Page: 492
Month: December
Year: 2015
Type: Article

Abstract

Imagine you are a domestic violence victim. After years of abuse, you courageously file for divorce, hoping to leave your abuser behind you. The court orders you to pay alimony. Your former spouse uses the funds to continue the abuse.
This apparently common situation spurred the California Legislature to add Section 4325 to the Family Code. Section 4325, quoted above in pertinent part, creates a presumptive bar to alimony for spouses convicted of domestic violence, and supports other recently added provisions in the alimony statutes that respond to domestic violence in the context of divorce. The author of SB 1221, the bill that ultimately produced section 4325, argued that divorce often is “the only effective means of escape” from domestic violence and that tying a victim to an abusive spouse by ordering the former to pay alimony “is unconscionable.”