How to Protect Yourself During Divorce Involving Domestic Violence

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( — February 6, 2018) — Divorces can become extremely contentious, especially when one spouse has the propensity to be violent. Although domestic violence falls under criminal law and divorce falls under family law, there are times when the two can intersect. When a family case involves criminal elements like domestic violence, the case can become much more serious and complex. When two people are going through a difficult divorce, the case can be simultaneously played out in two different courts.

Divorce and domestic violence

If you are going through a divorce and either have been the victim of domestic violence in the past, you are being threatened, or you are scared of your partner, it is possible to obtain orders of protection. There are many ways that you can protect yourself if things during your divorce proceedings get too intense or if you become fearful of what steps your partner might take. These are the various types of orders or protection that your domestic assault lawyer can petition for, against your estranged partner.

Orders of protection

Currently, all 50 states allow individuals who feel threatened by someone in their lives to take out an order of protection to try to minimize their risk of being the victim of violence. There are different types of orders of protection available.

Emergency protection order

In most states when someone is the victim of domestic violence, law enforcement is called and one spouse is requested to leave the residence, then 1/3 of states allow police officers to remove any guns from the home without having to have a court order or investigation to do so.

In other states, police officers can order an emergency protection order (an EPO). An emergency protection order is usually given to victims of domestic abuse, and it is ordered for a short period of time – typically anywhere from three to seven days. Although it’s temporary, it provides enough time to allow the victim to seek a more permanent order of protection, and gives the court enough time to investigate and to have a court-mandated order of protection initiated through criminal court.

Protection order

Every state has some variation of a protection order; although they may all have different names and guidelines, the objective is the same: to keep the victims of domestic violence safe from their abusers. Depending on the state, an order of protection might be:

  • No-contact. If the order of protection has a no-contact provision, that means the abusive person may not text, stalk, hit, disturb, email, disturb or attack the victim in any way. It may also protect other individuals in the person’s life.
  • Provisions based on contact. Provisions on contact often permit only peaceful communication between the victim and the abuser. Cases where provisions on contact might be the solution is in cases of divorce where minor children are involved and visitation requires contact.
  • Provisions that require someone to stay away. There are provisions that the abuser is required to stay a specific distance from the victim’s home, their work, their school, or even their car. In most cases it is about 100 yards or 300 feet.
  • Provisions to move out. A provision to move out requires that the abuser leave the home or residence that a couple shares. The judge may actually order that law enforcement escort the abuser from home with their belongings. It’s not just for home dwellings – they might also have to vacate a shared business.
  • Provisions for firearms. A provision for firearms might require that an abuser surrender any firearms that they possess. In 2/3 of the states in the Union, someone who has an order of protection against them may also be prohibited from purchasing a firearm.
  • Provision for counseling. There are some orders of protection that require an abuser to seek counseling for anger management, batterer’s intervention, or AA.
  • Payment of expenses provisions. Some states might require that the abuser pays for any expenses that the victim incurred due to the abuse. Things like loss of earnings, moving costs, or even medical bills might all be included under the order of protection.

If you are in the midst of a divorce and things start to become extremely contentious, it might be necessary for you to consider protecting yourself from harm. Even though your divorce is being handled in family court, you might also want to take out an order of protection in criminal court. To protect yourself and your family, it is a good idea to hire a domestic violence attorney in addition to a divorce lawyer.