A Senate committee has approved legislation that would grant an immediate divorce in cases of spousal or child abuse.

Under current law, a woman or man has to wait 180 days for a divorce to be granted in cases where one spouse physically or sexually abuses the other or their children. Kim Sport of the United Way says physical violence escalates following separation.

"The greatest acts of domestic violence occur when a victim takes steps to leave his or her abuser," Sport said. "This is usually with in the first eight weeks of separation."

The same panel also approved a bill that would allow individuals who are victims of domestic violence during their marriage to seek punitive damages from their spouse for the injuries they may have sustained.

Sport says Louisiana ranks in the top ten every year for the number of domestic homicides. She says these two bills are an effort to prevent future murders that occur between estranged spouses.

Both pieces of legislation are headed to the Senate floor for further discussion.