History of Domestic Violence when awarding Spousal Support

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In ordering spousal support, a court must consider “documented evidence” of any history of domestic violence between the parties, including emotional distressed suffered by the supported party resulting from the violence. Fam C Section 4320(i).  Forms of documented evidence may potentially include items such as photographs, police reports, medical records, emails, and diary entries.  See Marriage of Cauley (2006) 138 CA4th 1100.

Criminal Convictions:  the criminal conviction of a abusive spouse must be considered in making a reduction or elimination of spousal support award in accordance with Family Code section 4325.  Under Section 4325, there is a rebuttable presumption against the award of spousal support to a spouse who has been convicted of a criminal act of domestic violence against the other spouse within 5 years before, or any time after, filing of the dissolution proceeding.  To rebut the presumption, a court may consider, among other things, documented evidence of a convicted spouse’s history as a domestic violence victim.  Rebuttal requires proof by a preponderance of evidence.

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