Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What Happens When Domestic Violence is Involved? Family Law Massachusetts

The term domestic violence is defined as a form of abuse by one partner against the other, be it in a marriage or intimate relationship. Domestic abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or financial. Divorce can trigger domestic violence events or domestic violence can be the reason behind the filing of divorce. If you are ever in fear of being harmed or threatened to be harmed or believe you suffer from some form of abuse, you should seek immediate assistance from your local police department and/or a mental health professional.

Dealing with Domestic Violence

The victim of domestic violence has many avenues of assistance when trying to file for divorce. There are steps one can take to leave an abusive relationship, protecting the individual as well as the children involved. Work with domestic violence groups to find temporary living solutions while leaving an abusive partner or contact a lawyer to find out what can be done to remove the abuser or yourself and children from the abusive environment.

Temporary restraining orders are one option that can give you a sense of protection from the abuser. You can apply for an abuse prevention order, commonly known as a restraining order or RO, before filing for divorce. The probate and family courts and the district courts have the ability to issue ROs. The standard for removing an abuser from the home is higher in the probate and family court. It is more common to seek an RO from the district court first and later have it modified or extended by the probate and family court.

Protections for Children in Domestic Violence Divorce

Domestic violence involving children will be seriously considered by the courts when issuing custody orders and parenting time. You need an attorney who can emphatically represent to the court the extent of the abuse and the impact it has on the individuals and household. Often, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) becomes involved. The courts rely on DCF reports to determine whether parenting time should be allotted to the abusive parent and/or whether parenting time should be supervised, include overnights, etc.

Domestic Violence Laws in Massachusetts

Domestic violence often includes criminal charges. These are utilized by the probate and family court when determining custody and parenting time issues. Penalties for those prosecuted for domestic violence include attending a certified batterer’s program. This is a mandatory condition of probation if the defendant is found guilty or accepts a continuance without a finding. The defendant’s board of probation record or criminal record (“CORI”) denotes that he or she was charged with a crime of abuse. The probate and family court will consider a party’s CORI, the RO and accompanying affidavit, any DCF reports and statements by the parties’ attorneys when issuing orders relative to divorce proceedings, with or without children. It is imperative to have an attorney represent your interests when domestic violence is alleged.

Kathleen A. Delaney is an experienced family law and criminal defense attorney located in Massachusetts who can assist with issues of divorce, child custody and criminal charges of domestic violence. Contact Attorney Delaney for a complimentary initial consultation to discuss your options and likely outcome of any domestic or criminal matter involving domestic violence.

 By Tourkantonis & Delaney, PC


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