Do I Have to Confront My Abuser to Receive Financial Support?
Divorce is the result of a breakdown in the marital relationship, which usually involves some level of conflict. But sometimes, the relationship’s dysfunction crosses the line into domestic violence.
For men and women currently enduring domestic abuse, the number one priority is securing the safety of yourself and your children. If you are in immediate distress, please contact 911 or the New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-572-SAFE (7233).
Once your location is secure, we highly recommend you seek legal counsel to organize the facts of your case and explore all legal options to ensure the long-term safety and economic security of yourself and your children.
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A.2C:25-17) grants the judge authority to order monetary compensation for losses suffered directly from incidents of domestic violence. Individuals can also seek spousal support and child support if they meet the criteria outlined by New Jersey state law.
If you’re a survivor of domestic violence, you do not have to reveal your address to the alleged abuser to receive alimony and/or child support payments. You will not have to confront your abuser face-to-face in negotiations for settlement, either.
By statute, the State of New Jersey can take spousal and child support payments directly out of an individual’s paycheck and send it to the recipient. The payments are typically processed through the New Jersey Family Support Payment Center (NJFSPC), a neutral third party.\
If the payments are not coming directly out of the paycheck, the payer must still send the written checks to the NJFSPC, not the recipient. In other words, the abusive ex-spouse has no reason to require access to your new home or work address.
If the abusive ex-spouse retains visitation rights with the children, custody exchanges can occur with police supervision or in a safe public space, like a police station.
Beware: The Abuser Can Also Request Spousal Support
It’s hard to believe, but there have been instances where domestic violence survivors were ordered to pay spousal support to their abusers. The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act does not specifically address what happens when the victim of domestic violence is also the majority breadwinner of the family.
There is one potential loophole around this unfortunate scenario. According to a 2014 amendment to the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(i):
No person convicted of Murder, N.J.S.2C:11-3; Manslaughter, N.J.S.2C:11-4; Criminal Homicide, N.J.S.2C:11-2; Aggravated Assault, under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12-1; or a substantially similar offense under the laws of another jurisdiction, may receive alimony if: (1) the crime results in death or serious bodily injury, as defined in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-1, to a family member of a divorcing party; and (2) the crime was committed after the marriage or civil union. A person convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder may not receive alimony from the person who was the intended victim of the attempt or conspiracy. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the court to deny alimony for other bad acts.
The bolded section (our emphasis added) can be interpreted by a judge to mean that a criminal act of domestic violence should result in a mandatory forfeiture of alimony rights. An experienced divorce and family law attorney can help you incorporate this argument into your legal strategy.
Hire a New Jersey Divorce Attorney
We understand the fears and challenges faced by survivors of domestic abuse when ending a marriage. Our firm’s top priority is the safety of you and your children.
Arons & Solomon represents survivors of domestic abuse with discretion and unrelenting advocacy. We can help you seek temporary or permanent restraining orders, obtain a divorce, and arrange for a safe and reasonable long-term family resolution. Contact us today for a free consultation.Request a Free Consultation »