Instances of domestic violence are common. Thousands of people experience domestic violence each year. And while many of them choose to stay with their abusers, sometimes out of fear, others choose to leave them and get a divorce. If you are one of these individuals, and you want to find out how you can protect yourself during your divorce, keep reading below:
What is Classed as Domestic Violence?
There are several types of domestic violence: physical, sexual, mental, financial, psychological, and emotional. Abuse can include anything that leaves you feeling traumatized, controlled, or manipulated.
Understand the Domestic Violence Act
The Domestic Violence Act was first introduced in 1979. Since then, it has undergone several changes, and although not perfect, it has several good attributes. It protects children, men, and women and offers a fast method for separating a spouse from their abuser.
Under this act, domestic violence is described as placing a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or attempts to cause bodily injury. This act not only protects current spouses, but also previous spouses, and people dating in relationships.
How Can a Restraining Order Protect Me?
A domestic violence restraining order can protect you in several ways:
- It can prevent the person from contacting you.
- It can order them not to harass, talk to, harm, or stalk you.
- It can make them stay a certain distance away from you.
- It can prevent them from having guns or other weapons in their possession.
- It can order them to pay spousal/child support.
- It can inform orders about child custody.
How to Get a Restraining Order
If you experience domestic violence, you can request an emergency restraining order from a police officer. There are two different types of restraining orders: a temporary one or a permanent one. A temporary restraining order lasts between 20-25 days. After that, a court has to decide whether or not to grant a permanent one.
Another way to apply for a restraining order is to fill in some court forms. These forms will ask you to give details of the abuse. No court fees are involved in applying for a domestic violence restraining order.
What Other Safety Measures Are Available to Me?
The Domestic Violence Act allows judges to approve various safety measures (otherwise known as protection orders). These measures are in addition to protections you might be entitled to under other laws. Here are some of the safety measures judges can approve:
- Giving you possession of the home you shared with your ex-partner and excluding them from the household.
- Requiring your spouse to provide alternative housing.
- Evicting your ex-partner and helping you return to your home.
- Granting temporary child custody.
- Determining who legally owns personal property.
- A catchall provision that allows the court to grant any protective order.
Understanding What Safety Measures Can Do
Despite the extensive list of safety measures listed above, there are several issues you need to bear in mind:
- These safety measures last no more than one year. There are no exceptions to this rule, but you can ask for them to be renewed if necessary.
- Copies of the order must be supplied to both parties, as well as the sheriff’s department and police in the state where you live.
Although divorcing an abuser is unlikely to be a pleasant experience, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As long as you understand the law and know how to protect yourself, it is possible to get out of a domestic violence relationship and move on.
If you need more advice about domestic violence-related divorces, contact our lawyers at Northwest Family Law.
You can visit us at:
- Bellevue – 10900 Northeast 4th Suite 2300, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Kirkland – 1207 Market St. Kirkland, WA 98033
Or call now for a free consultation on (206) 792-0981.