Violence within the family (domestic violence) is much more common than many of us believe. Each year, this occurs in 3 to 4 million families. Divorces often bring on an increase in such violence; 50 percent of serious assaults occur at or after the point of separation or divorce.
If there has been any violence in your family, we need to talk about that before anything is filed in court. Together we need to determine whether an injunction or protective order is needed, to protect you or your children from future violence. Many spouses will simply stay away if such an order has been issued. Even if your spouse will not obey the order, it will help the police to physically remove your spouse if you can show the order to them.
If you need to go into any sort of "safe house" to protect yourself or your children from violence, tell me about this before you do so. We need to take steps in court so that your spouse cannot convince the judge you are kidnapping the children.
If there are allegations about your committing domestic abuse toward your spouse or children during the marriage, you need to tell me about it so that I can be prepared to deal with that issue. There is a good likelihood that your spouse will parade these allegations before the court. If you are innocent we need to organize our proof to defend you. If this happened there may be an explanation about why things happened, such as your spouse was hitting you and you defended yourself. If you committed abuse you will need to get counseling and stop the abuse.
Child abuse is disgusting. It is often an example of the weak being victimized by the strong. A false allegation of child abuse is just as disgusting. Both do damage that can continue through a family for generations.
Abuse can be clear-cut or questionable. In some cases, one person’s abuse is another person’s discipline. Some experts, such as a psychologist, can be helpful while some can make the problem worse.
If the police come you must be calm. Even if you called the police they will arrest the person they consider to be the "aggressor." If you are yelling or trying to get at your spouse then the police will be more likely to see you as the aggressor. Yelling at the police increases your likelihood of being arrested even more.
Injunctions and protective orders are orders of the court that are issued to prevent harm pending future hearings. If you are afraid that your spouse will beat you, take your money out of the bank, or run off with your children, the court can enjoin or prohibit these things by issuing an injunction. In all cases other than irreconcilable differences, the court will issue a standard injunction when the case is filed. In other cases where other relief is requested such as removing someone from the home, the court may require a hearing before deciding on that relief.
The standard injunction provides as follows:
Transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing, or in any way dissipating or disposing, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, of any marital property.
Expenditures from current income to maintain the marital standard of living and the usual and ordinary costs of operating a business are not restricted by this injunction. Each party shall maintain records of all expenditures, copies of which shall be available to the other party upon request.
Voluntarily canceling, modifying, terminating, assigning or allowing to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any insurance policy, including but not limited to life, health, disability, homeowners, renters and automobile, where such insurance policy provides coverage to either of the parties or the children, or that names either of the parties or the children as beneficiaries without the consent of the other party or an order of the court. AModifying@ includes any change in beneficiary status.
Harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other and from making disparaging remarks about the other and from making disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of any children of the parties or to either party=s employer.
Relocating any children of the parties outside the state of Tennessee, or more than one hundred (100) miles from the marital home, without the permission of the other party or an order of the court, except in the case of a removal based upon a well-founded fear of physical abuse against either the fleeing parent or the child. In such cases, upon request of the non-relocating parent, the court will conduct an expedited hearing, by phone conference if appropriate, to determine the reasonableness of the relocation and to make such other orders as appropriate.
If you disobey an injunction or a protective order, the court can put you in jail. Even if the judge does not put you in jail, you can be fined and the judge may have a hard time trusting you later when you testify. The police do not want to get involved in problems between spouses; but if you show them an injunction, they may run the other party off, and they have to act if you have a protective order.
If you are under an Injunction or Protective Order you must follow the order. Failure to follow the order can result in your being put in jail. A Criminal Court judge can put you in jail for years for an assault on the person protected by the order after a protective order or possibly an injunction has been issued.
If you are under an Injunction or a Protective Order, you may be the same as a felon as far as the Federal Firearms Act is concerned. Being a felon, receiving or possessing a firearm is a serious federal crime. If you have guns and are under a protective order, get them out of your possession and do not acquire any while the order is in effect.
A protective order deals with domestic violence and is stronger than an injunction, but you need a more complex and expensive legal process to get a protective order. If you need protection, I will get you an injunction. However, if you feel you need the extra protection of a protective order, ask me, and I will take the steps to get it issued.
If you are under a protective order, any assault on your spouse is an aggravated assault, which is a serious criminal felony. You must obey protective orders and injunctions even if your spouse tells you it is all right to ignore the order. That spouse may be setting you up for a trap. You must obey the order until the court modifies or vacates the order.
Information courtesy of Larry Rice, Attorney at Law and Author of "The Complete Guide to Divorce Practice" Memphis, Tennessee