Many times, when client initially meet with an attorney, they reveal that in the relationship that is headed for a divorce, legal separation, or an allocation of parental responsibilities, that there have been incidents of domestic abuse, domestic violence. This abuse can be physical or emotional, and victims are not just women, but men are victims of abuse as well.
One of the initial concerns for an attorney about to begin a family law case which is sure to create emotional tension and anxiety is how to move forward and allow the client to feel safe in doing so. While no attorney can guarantee the safety of a client or other family members, there are steps that can be taken legally to help client’s feel secure in making the decision to leave a relationship or to take on child custody issues.
Civil protection orders are one way to obtain court orders to prevent contact between the retrained party and the protected party, and to temporarily give sole decision-making authority to the protected party if children are involved. Obtaining a civil protection order begins with the filing of a motion requesting the protection order from an imminent risk of harm based upon a party committing an act of harm, making a threat to do harm, or commit an act of violence. If the court finds sufficient grounds exist to believe that an imminent risk of harm exists, a temporary protection order is issued, and then later the restrained party needs to be served and a hearing on the permanency of the protection order is made. Judges are more likely to grant temporary protection orders rather than risk the safety of someone seeking a protection order. Whether than protection order will become permanent will be a matter of showing the unless the order is made permanent, the behavior giving rise to the protection order will continue.
No one can guarantee that protection orders will keep an angry spouse away, however, it is one step that can be taken to provide some sense of security as the process to dissolve a relationship or decide custody issues begins. Asking police to extra patrols near a protected party’s home is another option to help provide a greater sense of protection.
Having the ability to listen to clients and discuss some of the issues that may lead to a request for a protection order is essential. Also being able to make observations of clients who may be victims of abuse is also extremely important. Fear and shame make many people unable or unwilling to act to protect themselves. As a former prosecutor, Sergei Thomas is well versed in recognizing issues of domestic violence and abuse and has the courtroom experience to seek protection of clients to help free them from these unhealthy relationships.