Sadly, relationship violence is a reality in a large number of households. Sometimes, this abuse takes the form of a sudden traumatic event. Just as often, however, the domestic violence takes place incrementally, in the form of unannounced visits, angry text messages, violent outbursts, or erratic behavior.
There are, however, almost always two sides to every story. Some people may be tempted to use protective orders as weapons in divorce and child custody cases —jurors may be quick to believe that the recipient is a “bad person.” Moreover, since a final protective order lasts up to five years and generally forbids all contact for any reason, in addition to other restrictive provisions, violations are almost inevitable.
Obtaining a Protective Order
A person can request a temporary protective order be issued against another family member, and the law broadly defines this term to include:
· A current or former spouse
· The mother or father of your children
· Anyone related by blood or marriage
· A person with whom you had, or have, an “intimate relationship”
The judge normally issues a temporary protective order on the same day it is requested. Although some of these items may require an additional hearing or evidence other than the petitioner’s affidavit, a temporary protective order may:
· Order the recipient to remain away from you, your children, and other specified family members
· Exclude the respondent from your home
· Obey existing court orders
· Prohibit the respondent from owning a gun
A final order may include additional provisions, such as payment of restitution or medical expenses and participation in an anger management, substance abuse, or other program. A temporary protective order takes effect once the respondent is served — typically, either the police department or a private process server handles this aspect.
A temporary order usually remains valid until the hearing date. At the hearing, respondents basically have two options:
· “On Consent” Agreement: The respondent agrees to the entry of the protective order but admits no wrongdoing. Therefore, the final order is enforceable, but it cannot be used as evidence in any subsequent child custody or other proceedings; or
· Trial: The petitioner must prove emotional, verbal, and/or physical violence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
A partial agreed order may also be an option; for example, respondents may sign an on-consent order if they retain some visitation privileges.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
If you are a victim of domestic abuse – or your spouse has accused you of domestic abuse, you do not want to go through this process without an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Fairfax, VA.
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into family law and domestic abuse.