Do Divorce “Cooling Off” Periods Put Domestic Violence Victims at Risk?

QUEENS, New York. Many states have “cooling off” periods in the interest of reducing the number of people who get divorced. The states claim that they have a vested interest in protecting marriages, especially where children may be involved. Critics claim that the state should have no say in whether people stay together or part ways. However, in the case of divorce involving domestic violence, “cooling off” periods may be just one more hurdle that the abused need to jump over before they are free of the cycle of violence for good. In other cases, onerous residency requirements can end up trapping individuals in marriages with violent spouses.

Some states have moved to reduce financial as well as time hurdles. For example, in Maine, legislation has been introduced that would waive divorce filing fees for victims of domestic violence and would relax the state’s waiting periods to file for divorce.

For example, under New York’s divorce laws, individuals must reside continuously in the state for at least one year before they can file for divorce. This means that individuals who move to New York to flee their abusive spouse may have to wait as long as a year before they can serve their spouse divorce papers. However, individuals may have other options, including the right to seek a restraining order. If you are fighting to break free of the cycle of violence, consider speaking to the Law Office of Charles Zolot, integrated domestic violence lawyers in Queens, New York. The time of greatest risk is when a person is leaving an abusive spouse. If you are considering breaking free, don’t try to do it alone. Seek community and social supports and consider speaking to a qualified lawyer who can help you navigate the sometimes complex legal process.

“Cooling off” periods can also bar individuals from seeing a swift divorce. In New York in order to file for divorce under the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” the marriage must have been broken down for at least 6 months prior to the filing. Critics of “cooling off” periods claim that they are an overreach of the state’s powers and that they put women and domestic violence victims at risk. According to some legislators trying to change “cooling off” laws, longer waiting periods can actually increase acrimony and lead to more contentious divorces. The Advocate reports that in Louisiana, couples must live apart for at least six months before they can divorce. This can be tough if finances are still entangled and an abusive spouse is controlling.

At the end of the day, there are many resources in Queens available to victims of domestic violence. You are not alone and there are ways to break free of the cycle of violence. A qualified divorce lawyer can review your circumstances, determine your eligibility to get divorced in New York, and help you use the law to the fullest extent to protect your rights. Visit today to learn more. Don’t suffer alone.

Charles Zolot