Are you a victim of domestic violence? Or, are your children victims? If so, and you’re seriously considering divorce, certainly you know that while leaving is the “right thing to do,” you have to plan your moves very carefully; you should not do it alone. If you find yourself or your children in danger and you need help immediately, call “911.” You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
What is domestic violence? It refers to physical abuse, or threats of abuse between family members (by blood or marriage), members of the same household, or between people who used to be in a dating relationship; for example, it can be between a former couple who have children together, but are no longer in a relationship.
The California Courts define domestic violence as:
- Threatening someone;
- Hitting someone;
- Stalking or harassing;
- Sexual assault (rape);
- Intentionally hurting someone;
- Trying to physically hurt someone;
- Making another person afraid that they will be seriously harmed, or someone else will be seriously harmed; and
- Destroying someone else’s personal property.
According to the California Courts, physical abuse is not limited to “hitting,” it includes pulling hair, keeping the victim from coming and going freely, throwing things, scaring the victim, following the victim, pushing or shoving, and kicking. It also doesn’t have to be physical, it can be verbal, emotional, or psychological as well.
What Should You Do?
Suppose you’ve decided to leave your abusive spouse, what do you do? You are in a very sensitive situation, especially because leaving can be the most dangerous time for domestic violence victims. Be sure to seek help as you break free from the chains of abuse.
1.Contact a Divorce Attorney: You need legal advice, especially if you have children with your abusive spouse. You do not want to do anything that will affect your chances of obtaining custody of your children. There are specific procedures that you should follow, which will protect your legal rights while leaving your spouse. Our divorce attorney is board certified in family law and can advise you on which legal steps to take.
2.Consider Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order: You should highly consider a domestic violence restraining order, which will protect you and your children (if any) from the abuser. If the abuser violates the restraining order, he or she can be prosecuted and sent to jail.
What Can a Restraining Order Do?
A domestic violence restraining order can do many things, such as:
- Order the abuser to stay away from you and your children.
- Order the abuser to NOT contact you and your children.
- Order the abuser to move out of the family residence.
- Order the abuser to pay child support.
- Give you temporary custody of your children.
- Order the abuser to pay certain bills, such as the mortgage.
- Order the abuser to pay spousal support.
- Order the abuser to successfully complete a 52-week batterer intervention course.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and you’re ready to file for divorce, contact Cutter & Lax to meet with one of our San Fernando divorce attorneys. We’re here to guide you every step of the way – you don’t have to go through this alone.