Accused of Domestic Violence in a Domestic Relations Case?
This is a common occurrence, especially in domestic relations cases. Sometimes, people threaten the other person with accusations of domestic violence, and sometimes, people do things that lead to justified accusations. So what do you do now, if you have been accused?
Protection OrdersYour partner or spouse may have gone to the court and requested a temporary protection order. At that "ex parte" hearing, a permanent protection order hearing will have been scheduled. Once you are served with a protection order, all of its limiting terms apply to you. You should be prepared to be in court to argue against the request to make the temporary protection order permanent on the "return date" that is listed on the documents you are served.
ABIDE BY THE TERMS OF THE PROTECTION ORDER. There are criminal repercussions, if you violate the protection order. Even if your partner/ spouse invites you to violate the terms, do not do so, until or unless the protection order has been vacated. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing criminal charges.
Parenting TimeAccusations alone are not likely going to impact your parenting time. If your children were included on the temporary protection order, then your time will either be restricted entirely or limited in some fashion, until the matter of the protection order has been resolved.
Courts are hesitant to include children on protection orders. Even where a court finds that domestic violence occurred between two parents, the courts are almost always going to try to find a way to keep your relationship with your children intact.
Mitigating the DamagePeople do things that they regret, when they are upset. Sometimes, these actions are the result of heightened emotions. Sometimes, they are complete accidents, and sometimes, they are the result of deeper struggles. Sometimes, the accusations that are made are nothing more than that - accusations.
Particularly when parenting time is an issue, you need to do all that you can in order to mitigate any damage that has been done, whether by your actions or by mere accusations.
If you committed an act, or acts, of domestic violence, you should do all that you can to ensure that you address the problem that led to your actions. This may include seeking mental health treatment, anger management treatment, or treatment for substance abuse. Taking the initiative to address a deeper problem is going to be better for you, your family, and for your case.
If your relationship with your partner is toxic and is a trigger, you should do everything that you can to stay away from them.
If false accusations were made, you should be prepared to fight the accusations with mitigating evidence, but you should also be prepared to jump through some hoops. Once an accusation is made, a red flag is raised. If you are willing to take steps to address an alleged problem or to provide the evidence that you are "free" of the alleged issues (substance abuse, mental health problems, anger problems), then you will have a much greater likelihood of success.
Get a LawyerIf you have been accused of domestic violence, you are involved in a high conflict case. You need to get a lawyer to help you navigate this process, especially if there are children involved.
Pending Criminal Investigation/ CaseIf there are pending criminal matters, anything that you say under oath in your domestic relations case can be used against you in your criminal case. To make things even more complex, a domestic relations court can hold "pleading the 5th" against you. While it may prolong matters in your domestic relations case, you should not take the stand, until your criminal matter has been resolved. This is all the more reason for you to get an attorney involved.