The Intersection of Domestic Violence and Divorce

Unfortunately, there are some divorce cases that result from domestic violence. There are some specific things you can do to protect yourself from domestic violence. In addition, make sure your attorney is aware of the situation because any instance of domestic violence may affect your divorce case and you divorce attorney can help walk you through your options.

Protecting Yourself Against Domestic Violence

The first thing you should do if you are in danger of domestic violence is call 911 for immediate help and remove yourself from the situation. This may mean temporarily removing yourself from an interaction or it may mean moving out of your home.

The next thing you should consider is filing a Petition for Order for Protection. You should be prepared to tell the court some basic information about you as well as why you need protection. The court can put multiple restrictions on your abuser to prevent contact, set a temporary custody and visitation schedule and possibly grant you exclusive possession of the home and vehicles. The ultimate goal is to ensure your safety.

If you choose to file for an Order for Protection and have the appropriate grounds the court will grant your request on an Ex Parte basis. This means that once you submit your Petition the court will review it without hearing and either grant or deny it. Once the court grants your petition you will get the documents back and there will be a hearing on your petition. You must have the opposing party served with your petition. You will both have to attend the hearing and the court will take your testimony. If either party has witnesses or need more time to prepare their case then the court can continue the hearing. If the hearing is continued the court will extend the protective orders until the new hearing date.

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Divorce

The biggest way that domestic violence will affect your divorce is determining how often the abuser will be able to see the child and in what capacity. The court will look at the circumstances of the abuse before making that decision. While the court can set temporary custody and visitation through and Order for Protection, you will likely have a separate hearing to determine where the children will reside and visitation schedule on a permanent basis.

The court is not automatically required to restrict contact with the child because of domestic violence. The more instances of domestic abuse, the more likely it is the court will decide to restrict access to the child. Because of this, it is important to make sure you document any instances of abuse.

If the court decides it is appropriate to restrict access to the child, there are different degrees of restriction. One way to restrict contact is to require that visitation with the child be supervised. This means that the abusive parent can only have contact with the child while another designated adult is present. This is to ensure that the child is not in danger during the visit and if the child is in danger, the designated adult can take steps to remove the child and prevent any harm. The court will put the children’s safety first when making these determinations.

The most important thing is to ensure you remove yourself from the danger of domestic violence. Once you are safe, you can begin to take steps to initiate and finalize your divorce. If you need resources to help you stay safe and begin your divorce, we would be happy to help you throughout the process.

What To Do Next:
Experiencing a family law issue can be overwhelming and stressful. Knowledgeable family attorneys do much more than represent clients, they understand how choices made in the legal process can drastically affect life afterwards.

Sandra F. Banks offers clients a No Hassle Family Law Strategy Session to make sure every client gets guidance on how to achieve a stable, secure and happy future.

What’s more, if I’m not the right attorney for the case, you have my commitment that I’ll point you in the right direction. Just call my office at 510-336-2369 to schedule.