Divorce is a time of extreme emotions for many people, and, unfortunately, domestic violence sometimes occurs immediately before or after a divorce filed. No amount of stress can ever justify violence, and if violence has occurred in your home you need to take actions to protect yourself, and your children. The divorce process is long and stressful, and if domestic violence has occurred once, it may happen again. The most important thing to do if you are ever the victim of domestic violence is to call the police. Even if you love the abuser and want to protect him or her, calling the police is necessary to protect yourself.
The police will first serve to stop any more violence from happening in the moment. They will also document what happened. This is important because during divorce proceedings there are sometimes false claims of domestic violence. Third party documentation will help you show the judge that domestic violence occurred in your case. It is also important to photograph all of your injuries, preferably with a camera that indicates the date and time the photograph was taken. If your abuser tries to contact you, encourage him or her to do so via text or email so that everything that is said is in writing. This way, if you are later accused of making things up, you will be able to show that you are telling the truth.
If the domestic violence occurred prior to the divorce, contact the district attorney’s domestic violence unit and explain your situation. You can contact them through their website http://app.dao.hctx.net/HelpingVictims/FamilyCriminalLaw.aspx. They will help assess your case and determine if you qualify for a protective order. In order to qualify for a protective order you must be able to prove that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. A protective order can prevent your spouse from coming near you, threatening you, or harming you in any way. If your children have also been victims, the protective order can protect them as well.
If your divorce is already pending, you will need to use your divorce attorney, or a different private attorney to help you get a protective order. In Harris County there is a single court, the 280th District Court, which is entirely dedicated to protective orders. At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC we have helped numerous clients gain the protection that they need in court. If you cannot afford a private law firm, we recommend that you contact one of the many free legal referral services to find an attorney who will help you at no cost. AVDA, Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence, is an excellent resource.
A protective order will also be considered in your divorce proceedings. If there is a protective order against your spouse you may be awarded sole conservatorship in a custody dispute, instead of joint conservatorship, and visitation with the children may be restricted or supervised in some way. Remember, family violence is never acceptable. If you are the victim of family violence you must take immediate steps to protect yourself. An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through this challenging process.