A measure that would allow judges to grant an immediate divorce in cases where a spouse or child is a victim of domestic abuse was approved today by the House Civil Law committee.

The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, now heads to the House floor.

Kim Sport, chairperson of the United Way public policy committee, is a supporter of the legislation.

"The time following separation from an abuser is the most dangerous period and the time when — if there is going to be an escalation of physical violence — it is after separation that this is going to happen," Sport said.

There was some discussion that a spouse might claim a protective order to get divorced faster even if there is no evidence of domestic abuse.

Democratic New Orleans Sen. J.P. Morrell said if a protective order is issued, the spouse's discretion must be trusted.

"I would argue that it's better to error on the side of safety," Morrell said. "If a spouse can get that protective order and wants to seek an immediate divorce, I would argue you should let them."

The committee still went ahead and approved the bill, which received a strong endorsement from Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette. She said this legislation is important because if required to stay with an abusive spouse for 180 days, it greatly increases the chances for domestic violence.

"It's really important to allow an immediate divorce in situations where you know there is an abusive situation, because you're really just prolonging the conflict," Landry said.