Updates

Press Release | October 2, 2018

Nadeau Introduces Elaine's Law to Protect Survivors of Abuse in Divorce Proceedings


As more women become top earners, some are forced to pay their abusers alimony and other legal fees


Today as members of the D.C. Council wear purple for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced the Alimony Justice for Injured Spouses Amendment Act of 2018 or "Elaine's Law" to protect spouses from having to pay alimony, legal fees and other spousal support to their abusers in divorce proceedings. The bill is co-introduced by Councilmembers David Grosso and Anita Bonds.

The bill is named after Elaine Rigas, a Ward 1 resident and survivor of domestic violence, who shared her story with Councilmember Nadeau. Because she was the top earner in her marriage, Elaine was ordered to pay spousal support, health care costs, attorney fees, part of her government pension, and other fees to her abuser in the divorce proceedings.

Elaine's Law seeks to end this type of situation in the District. Specifically, the “Alimony Justice for Injured Spouses Amendment Act of 2018” legislation would:

  • Prohibit a claim from an injuring spouse when there has been a judicial finding they have committed an intrafamily offense for:
    • Alimony; 
    • Any interest in the injured spouse’s pension and retirement benefits; or 
    • Attorney fees;
  • It would void any claim of stemming from an affidavit of support of the injuring spouse if entered into before a finding of intrafamily violence; and
  • It would allow an injured spouse to be granted a divorce within 3 months upon the finding of an intrafamily violence.

The full text of the bill as introduced is below.