Domestic abuse case ends in divorce and probation for NFL player

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Divorce on Monday, October 1, 2012.

This month has brought former NFL player Chad Johnson (also known as Chad Ochocinco) some resolution in his family life. After a summer filled with accusations by his former spouse of domestic abuse and a request for a divorce, Johnson decided to plead no contest to the charges and finalize his divorce. Johnson's situation reminds Virginians that marriages can end a number of ways, including with either a no fault or a fault-based divorce. In his case, Johnson's marriage ended as a result of domestic abuse -- one of the grounds that a spouse can cite in a fault-based divorce.

Johnson and his former wife married this summer at the beginning of July. Almost immediately, allegations of domestic violence arose. Then, after only a month of marriage, Johnson was arrested in light of the domestic abuse allegations. His wife saw these events as the end of a marriage. She quickly filed for divorce. Now, both of the matters have been resolved. The couple's divorce is finalized, and Johnson decided to plead no contest to the domestic abuse charges. He suffers several penalties as result -- a year of probation, counseling, restitution to his former spouse and the loss of his football career.

In Virginia, couples need not cite a reason for their divorce under the law. Sometimes, as in Johnson's case, there are clear reasons like domestic abuse for a couple's separation. Nevertheless, Virginia law does not require fault-based divorce. In a fault-based divorce state, the law requires the spouse that requested the divorce to demonstrate that the other spouse is at fault for the marriage's failure. There are a number of reasons that the other spouse is at fault including abuse, adultery or abandonment. Fault-based divorces are not common.

Most states, including Virginia, have abolished a showing of fault and allow couples to cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for their separation. Marriages can end in a variety of ways, including with allegations of domestic abuse like in the former NFL player's case.

Source:, "Chad Johnson gets probation, anger management in domestic battery case," The Associated Press, Sept. 21, 2012

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