Statistics show that in the United States one in three women and one in four men experience some form of intimate partner violence. The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey defines intimate partner violence as rape, physical violence, stalking, harassment and other forms of damaging, destructive behavior. Unfortunately, many divorces and legal separations involve threats and accusations of violence. The state of California has instituted a specific legal protocol for dealing with domestic violence and treats every threat of such violence seriously.
If you are separating from or divorcing a violent partner, inform your attorney about your spouse's violent tendencies from the start. Though you may find it embarrassing to discuss, the more information your attorney has about your situation, the more quickly he or she can move to protect you and your children from harm. A good divorce lawyer is alert to the potential for domestic violence and understands the psychology of victims. Your attorney may suggest:
- Requesting a restraining order
- Relocating to a shelter until a restraining order can be activated
- Serving divorce papers at a specific time and place to avoid inciting a violent reaction
If you are a victim of domestic violence, regardless of whether you have initiated a separation or divorce, you should immediately contact law enforcement and a family law attorney to discuss appropriate options for your protection and the protection of your family. An experienced and compassionate divorce lawyer can help protect you and your children from further abuse.