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Could a criminal conviction hinder the receipt of spousal support?

Pursuant to Family Code section 4320(m), there is a rebuttable presumption that when there has been a criminal conviction for an act of domestic violence by one spouse against the other within 5 years before, or any time after, filing of the dissolution petition, a court should not make a spousal support award to the abusive spouse.

So, what does this mean? If you have been convicted of an act of domestic violence by your spouse within 5 years (before or after the filing of the divorce petition), a court has discretion to not award the abusive spouse with spousal support.

Does the abusive spouse have any recourse? For instance, if the abusive spouse has redeemed himself or herself, if he or she has attended anger management classes etc., is there a chance to obtain spousal support, especially, if there is a great disparity in income between the parties? According to the same code section, in order to rebut the presumption set forth above, “the court may consider, among other things, documented evidence of a convicted spouse’s history as a domestic violence victim.”

In the case of Marriage of Cauley, (2006), 138 CA4th 1100, the former wife’s conviction for domestic violence against former husband rendered agreement for nonmodifiable and nonterminable spousal support to her unenforceable on public policy grounds. Since Wife was convicted for a prior act of domestic violence, an agreement stating that she be awarded nonmodifiable and nonterminable spousal support was unenforceable.

Either way, if you have a criminal law matter or a family law matter, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of David P. Schwarz for assistance. We are here to fight for you.

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