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Domestic Violence and Divorce: Impact on Strategies for Safety, Property Division, Child Custody

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, June 15, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will discuss the strategies to use when domestic violence affects a divorce, property division, financial support, child custody, and--most critically-- the safety of both the client and the attorney. The panel will review why these types of cases cannot be approached like other cases and how to navigate these differences.


When the victim of abuse files for divorce, a unique family and domestic violence divorce strategy must be deployed. Representing victims of domestic abuse requires understanding the impact of the abuse in all its various forms, including emotional, economic, and legal. Counsel must have an analytical framework for ascertaining true from false allegations and be prepared to deal with strenuous denials and counter-allegations from the alleged perpetrator.

Counsel must be prepared to seek appropriate orders from the court to protect the client's safety and must know what evidence will be sufficient to accomplish that. Certain state laws offer the victims of abuse powerful leverage. Because an abuser may defy authority, crafting enforceable orders can be challenging.

Domestic violence will influence every aspect of the case from determining how to distribute assets and liabilities to making a decision about spousal support. Courts often limit an abusive parent's custody rights, and in extreme cases, may terminate the abusive parent's right to visitation or award full custody to the other parent. Things get more complicated when a criminal domestic case is pending.

Listen as this experienced panel offers best strategies for attorneys representing victims of domestic abuse in divorce.



  1. Forms of domestic violence
  2. Understanding the mindset/belief system of the victim and abuser
  3. Safety issues
    1. Emergency and temporary orders
    2. Protocols for interaction between victim and abuser
    3. Attorney safety
    4. Applicable federal and state statutes
  4. Ancillary considerations
    1. Role of treatment programs and counseling for an abusive spouse
    2. Pendancy of criminal charges
  5. Strategies when representing domestic violence victims
    1. Divorce
    2. Property division
    3. Child custody
    4. Maintenance
  6. Strategies when representing the wrongly accused
  7. Protective orders


The panel will discuss these and other crucial issues:

  • What nonobvious forms does abuse take against the spouse? And against the spouse's lawyer?
  • What tools exist to prevent the abused client from being manipulated by the abuser during the divorce?
  • When should counselors be part of the legal team?
  • What state laws may apply?
  • How does the pendency of criminal charges affect the case?
  • What tools are there to protect a wrongly accused individual?


Cutting, Rahna
Rahna Cutting, M.A, LCDC, LPC-S

Litigation Consultant
Scroggins Law Group

Ms. Cutting has worked extensively with criminal and family court matters. Previously she was the mental health...  |  Read More

DeGonzague, Tommie
Tommie DeGonzague, MSW

Legal Program Director
Cherokee Family Violence Center

Ms. DeGonzague has been employed at Cherokee Family Violence Center since 2005. Prior to her position at CFVC, she...  |  Read More

Scroggins, Mark
Mark L. Scroggins

Managing Partner
Scroggins Law Group

Mr. Scroggins has practiced family law throughout the state of Texas for 25 years. He has written about family law...  |  Read More

Sumner, John
Honorable Ret. John Sumner

Atlanta Divorce Law Group

From 1987-2001, Mr. Sumner worked on cases that ranged from domestic law, child representation, Juvenile Court,...  |  Read More

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