Avoid Any Confrontations
You likely find it impossible to ever consider hitting your spouse or children. Sadly, all too many spouses have been accused of domestic violence during a divorce and lost access to their children because of a temporary restraining order. Sometimes all it takes is a loud argument overheard by the neighbors to start a chain reaction resulting in the court ordering you to stay away from your kids.
Civil courts in Washington have the power to grant Orders of Protection. These protective orders are granted when there is a claim of domestic violence, or even just a claimed fear of violence. Under Washington law, domestic violence is not only physical harm, it also includes stalking, destruction of property, and even verbal threats of violence. Poorly chosen words used in the heat of an argument have caused many spouses to be accused of domestic violence.
If a protective order is granted, you may be ordered to stay away from your spouse and kids, prohibited from entering the family home, or even visiting your children’s school. You may even be forced to attend counseling or anger management classes.
During the divorce process, the court may issue a restraining order. A parent with a restraining order against them will have a difficult time fighting for custody and visitation of their children. Restraining orders may also become permanent with the final divorce decree.
If you violate an active order for protection or restraining order, you can be arrested. Many good spouses and parents receive a rude awakening when their soon to be ex-spouse inflate an argument and accuse them of making threats against them and the children. In such circumstances, you need a divorce lawyer experienced in aggressively fighting orders for protection. Do not just roll over and accept the restraining order. They can have long term effects on your career as well as divorce. Make a clear and accurate record immediately.
It is absolutely against your best interest to resort to any behavior that may be labeled as domestic violence. During the divorce, give your former spouse plenty of space and avoid any confrontations. You will likely be hurt by many things your spouse has done. One heated argument in public may be all it takes to have the court issue a protective order. In the short term, you could face jail time and restrictions on your access to your home, spouse, and children. In the long term, charges of domestic violence may result in restraining orders, anger management class requirements, and permanent restrictions on custody and visitation with your children.
Having a restraining order entered against you can have lasting effects on things that you would not necessarily expect, like your ability to get a job or a security clearance. Restraining orders are good, necessary tools to be used by the court; but it is important the power of restraining orders not be abused. If your spouse has asked the court to enter a temporary restraining order against you, you need a good family law attorney to help you challenge the accusations in court.
An arrest for domestic violence leads to the very real possibility of criminal charges. Domestic violence is a serious crime in the state of Washington. Police officers have a duty to arrest if they believe an incident has occurred or an order for protection has been violated. A conviction on your record will impact you for years to come. The safest course is to avoid any situation that can result in an argument or confrontation.
If You are the Victim of Domestic Violence
It is important action be taken to protect you and your children from harm. A restraining order or other legal action may be appropriate. Female domestic violence against males is not uncommon, but it is not frequently discussed in public. Your attorney can help you understand your options and present relevant facts about abuse properly to the court.
It is important you talk openly with your attorney about the issue of domestic violence if it is affecting your life. Full and truthful disclosure is essential for the best family law representation. Your disclosures to your attorney are privileged and confidential.