Domestic violence doesn't only happen to the poor or uneducated, it can happen behind the closed doors of the finest homes. Often, violence is perpetuated in families with a family history of domestic violence, or when alcoholism or substance abuse is a contributing factor, but not always.
The term "domestic violence" refers to violence that happens between family and members of the same household. It can also occur between former romantic partners who have a child together. Domestic violence also occurs between same-sex partners, seniors and teens, no one is immune.
What do I do if I am being abused?
If you find yourself in immediate danger, call the police. When they arrive at your home, tell them the truth about what happened. There are on-call judicial officers that the police can call to issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) right there.
The EPO prohibits the abuser from coming near you, and it can be used to give you temporary custody of your children. For an EPO to be issued, there has to be a present danger that the abuser will harm you or your children.
EPOs last for either 5 court days or 7 calendar days, whichever one is less.
If you want a longer restraining order, you have to apply for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with the family court. If your TRO is granted, you will have to attend a court hearing about 3 weeks later.
At the hearing, your attorney can ask that the TRO be made "permanent." A permanent restraining order can last up to 5 years, but that's up to the judge's discretion. If you don't show up at the hearing, the TRO will expire.
If the abuser fails to show up at the hearing, the judge may grant the requested orders for as long as five years, without the abuser's input.
You can ask the judge to protect your children in the restraining order. For example, the judge can prohibit the abuser from coming near your family's home, the children's school, or other places the children may be.
You may ask the court for child and spousal support, and for the judge to assign you sole temporary possession of your home, regardless if the abuser's name is on the mortgage or lease.
If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, contact our firm for help.