A lawyer handling a high conflict case involving domestic violence needs to be trained regarding the nature of domestic violence, the typical behaviors associated with it, what to expect as legal proceedings begin, and what safety considerations to consider for the victim. The lawyer should also know all legal responses and remedies available, including protection orders, restraining orders, and injunctions.
Domestic violence is about control. It is a pattern of behavior used by an individual to establish and maintain control over his/her intimate partner. It may include threats, including threats to assault the victim, take or harm children, commit suicide, or damage property. When a perpetrator believes he/she is losing control, the individual may go to extreme lengths to retain it.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
A person may file for a domestic violence protection order (“protection order”) to protect them from a current or former spouse, current or former intimate partner, and certain other persons whose behavior is abusive, threatening, and/or seriously alarming and poses a risk of “Domestic Violence”.
Domestic violence does not have to involve physical injury. Domestic Violence is broadly defined to include (a) physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault; (b) sexual assault, or (c) stalking.
Although a protection order will not provide a victim with all of the relief available under a restraining order – especially property and support matters- issued in a divorce or paternity action, it is a quick and inexpensive way to obtain a court order to prohibit further abuse.
In addition to ordering the perpetrator not to commit any acts of domestic violence and to stay away from the victim and/or children, it may also make residential provisions for children, and require participation in batter’s treatment, submission to electronic monitoring, surrender of weapons, use of vehicle, and transfer of personal effects.
Victims of domestic violence who are married to the perpetrator or have a child with the perpetrator and are pursuing a divorce, paternity action, or other family law related action may also obtain a restraining order.
Along with the numerous restrictions available in protection orders, a restraining order can also provide for child support, spousal maintenance, and other financial relief.
Note: Restraining orders in divorce and family law cases offer broad relief and are often obtained even absent domestic violence. For example, soon after filing for divorce, it is common to obtain an order financially restraining a spouse suspected of wasting assets from use of marital funds except for basic necessities.
Injunctions are available to victims of domestic violence not pursuing a family court action who may be interested in filing a damage claim against the perpetrator. Commons reasons for seeking an injunction include preventing the wrongful transfer of property or removal of personal property.