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New law may help victims of domestic abuse divorce

In many cases, people seeking to end their marriages must go through a grueling process. One of the first steps required in most states is an attempt at marital counseling and/or mediation. While this step can be valuable to decrease spur-of-the-moment divorces and save the parties and the legal system additional time, money and distress, there are certain circumstances that can make this an unacceptable and even dangerous step. A new law in a neighboring state may be a catalyst for change in divorce law that will help people in Ohio and the rest of the country.

Primarily, this law eases the way for victims of spousal domestic abuse to attain divorces. It was predicated on the fact that it is difficult enough to make the decision to divorce in the best of situations, but, when you add the cycle of abuse to the picture, it often becomes a seemingly impossible option. Under current laws, a party who refuses to consent to a divorce can use tactics to draw the proceedings out for years, allowing regular contact with a victim.

The new legislation will allow courts to assume consent if divorce is filed against a party who has been convicted of committing spousal abuse. It will also allow the victim to object to divorce counseling if he or she has a protective order against his or her spouse, if the spouse has been convicted of a personal-injury crime or if the spouse is in a rehabilitation program because of abusive behavior. Legislators hope that this will allow victims to more easily leave violent marriages without having to endure protracted and frequent contact with their abusers.

Divorce laws and procedures in most states have been established to assist couples seeking divorces to either have amicable separations or to try to work out differences and reconcile. However, this is not usually an option in cases of abuse. Those in Ohio facing this situation may benefit from contacting attorneys who understand the unique and complex challenges of these situations. They can assist in understanding options and potential protections available under current state laws.

Source: lehighvalleylive.com, "WATCH: Gov. Wolf in Allentown eases divorce for abused spouses", Kurt Bresswein, April 21, 2016

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