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New bill could help domestic abuse victims in divorce filings

Sometimes relationships do not turn out the way both partners envisioned. When a person's spouse resorts to domestic abuse, victims may question whether they should leave the abusive partner. The legal complications involved can be emotionally difficult for victims who seek to divorce because of domestic abuse. However, a new bill that recently passed in the state's House of Representatives may simplify the process for those seeking a divorce in Louisiana if enacted into law.

The goal of the new bill is to provide an easier method of proving domestic abuse in divorce proceedings. The bill would change the law so that only one witness is needed to testify, and it would allow the victimized spouse to serve as the witness. In addition to relieving some of the burden of proof in providing extra witnesses, this also helps protect children by not requiring them to serve as witnesses.

Another way the bill could help victims is by clarifying that one incident of physical or non-physical abuse, including threats or intimidation, would be considered habitual and inhumane treatment for purposes of obtaining a divorce. Many commentators have indicated that the current interpretation of "habitual" means that the violence occurred more than once. However, should the bill pass, this would mean that victims could make use of it right away rather than having to prove the abuse occurred multiple times.

Though the bill has passed in the House of Representatives, it is currently heading back to the Senate for examination and a vote before it could be sent to the Governor for signature. Should it eventually become law, many victims of domestic abuse could have an easier time filing for divorce. Until then, Louisiana victims can still seek to safeguard themselves by filing petitions for protective orders or restraining orders, among other options. An experienced family law attorney could assist in the filing process for those in need.

Source: clarionledger.com, "House passes divorce amendment on domestic violence", Geoff Pender, March 6, 2017

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