The law makes it easy for people to get out of bad marriages. Washington, like most states, acknowledges no-fault divorce. This means that if you want a court to dissolve your marriage, all you have to do is file for divorce and follow the other required legal procedures. You do not have to prove that your spouse is at fault for ruining the marriage; you can get divorced simply because you no longer want to be married to your spouse. Meanwhile, at this moment, a lot of people are married to someone who treats them badly simply because they are afraid to leave.
Physical violence is often only the last step in a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior. Most of the time, when someone leaves a domestic violence situation, it is only after years of summoning the courage to get out. Moving on from an abusive marriage takes self-reliance as well as the support of friends or family and the services available to survivors of domestic violence. To find out more about your rights to property division and parenting time after leaving a domestic violence situation, contact a Seattle divorce lawyer.
The Many Manifestations of Domestic Violence
From the perspective of criminal law, domestic violence occurs when someone engages in physical violence or creates an immediate threat of physical violence against a family member, member of one’s household, or partner in a dating relationship. Not all abusive behavior in marriages fits the legal definition of domestic violence. Some other criminal behaviors, such as stalking or harassment, can result in criminal penalties.
Domestic violence and behaviors that tend to escalate toward domestic violence often occur out of view of law enforcement and the courts. In fact, the victim’s friends and family sometimes do not even know about it because the victim is afraid to talk to them about it. The following behaviors are often signs of an abusive relationship where there is a high risk of physical violence if it has not already occurred:
- Your spouse makes it difficult for you to maintain a close relationship with your friends and family through guilt trips, unexpected changes of plans, or threats.
- Your spouse does not allow you to have your bank account or might even prevent you from holding paid employment. This is known as financial abuse.
- Your spouse monitors your online activity and demands to know the passwords to your phone, computer, and online accounts.
- Your spouse loses their temper easily, calls you demeaning names, and blames you for problems that you did not cause.
Emergency Protection for Accusers and Due Process of Law for Defendants
According to the due process protections afforded by the United States Constitution and its amendments, no one can receive punishment for a crime unless they have been convicted at a jury trial or willingly entered a guilty plea. The court does, however, intervene in other ways in situations where there are allegations of domestic violence even before those allegations have been proven true. When you call the police about a domestic violence incident at your home, the police will arrest the alleged aggressor if they have probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred within the four hours leading up to the arrival of the police.
After police respond to a call about domestic violence, the court will issue an emergency protective order that requires the accuser and the defendant to avoid contact with each other for two weeks. Before the two-week period expires, the court will hold a hearing at which the judge decides whether to extend the protective order. Both sides will have the chance to present evidence about why the protective order should or should not be extended. The maximum length that the court can extend the protective order at this stage is one year.
Regardless of whether the court rules to extend the protective order, the alleged accuser may or may not face criminal charges. In many cases, the prosecution only has enough evidence to charge the defendant if the accuser cooperates with prosecutors or agrees to testify, and the chances are greater that an accuser will want to reconcile with their partner after a domestic allegation than that the accuser will be willing to testify against their partner.
How Can Domestic Violence Affect Your Family Law Case?
If you have accused your spouse of domestic violence allegations, it can count against them in your divorce and parenting time case even if they were never charged or charged but never convicted. The standard of evidence required to convict a defendant in a criminal court is much higher than the standard of evidence required to get a civil court or other family court to take action.
People who have been accused of domestic violence still have the right to a relationship with their children unless it is unsafe for the children to be with the accused parent. If the court has issued a restraining order so that your ex cannot contact you after you call the police about domestic violence, the court will issue a parenting plan that reflects this situation.
For example, the court might arrange drop-offs and pickups for changes in parenting time to accord with the school day (for example, Dad drops the children off at school on Monday morning, and they ride the school bus to Mom’s house on Monday afternoon), or another family member may need to transport the children from one parent’s house to another.
Contact Elise Buie Family Law About Domestic Violence Cases
Leaving a relationship or marriage that involves domestic abuse may necessitate legal assistance. Frequently, the abuser is resistant to their victim’s departure and may employ various tactics to obstruct the process.
At Elise Buie Family Law, our team of Seattle divorce and family attorneys possesses extensive experience handling challenging situations characterized by domestic violence. We are well-equipped to guide you through disentangling yourself from such a relationship or marriage, all the while safeguarding your rightful share of any jointly owned assets and residential time.
We can also connect you with the appropriate professionals who can provide the support you require during this challenging period. Contact us today.