Making The Complex

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Domestic violence victim pays abuser’s legal fees

Many Louisiana residents understand the challenges facing an abused spouse who wants to leave his or her abuser. For many domestic violence victims, initiating a divorce is one of the most impactful choices they will make in life. Finding the courage to part ways is difficult enough, without having to jump through legal hoops to make the separation permanent. 

For one domestic violence victim, divorcing her husband was far more difficult than she imagined it might be. He was serving a 10-year prison sentence for beating her, having also fired a gun at her during the same altercation. However, when she initiated the divorce process, she was told that she would have to pay for her husband’s divorce attorney.

The law in her state of residence allows that an inmate will be provided with an attorney to handle a divorce case, but that the individual who filed the divorce is required to pay for the cost of those legal services. In this case, the husband is behind bars and therefore has no means to pay for his own legal representation. That means his battered wife will have to cover that expense.

Legislation has been introduced to address what many feel is a flawed area of the law. In the meanwhile, the wife in this case was able to divorce her husband, and now speaks out on the issue of domestic violence and the importance of fighting for changes in legislation that negatively impacts victims of domestic violence. For many Louisiana residents, her story is all too familiar.     

Source:, “Wife stuck paying for abusive husband’s divorce lawyer because he’s in jail – and it’s Kentucky law“, Deborah Yetter, Jan. 9, 2018


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