Domestic violence is one of the ugliest aspects of human society. For various reasons, some people will physically or mentally abuse their spouses, intimate partners, children, and even their parents. Fortunately, most people do not engage in this behavior, but there are some who either don’t see it as wrong or they just can’t control their anger.
To be clear, domestic violence is not the same as civil harassment. The former involves interaction between family members or intimate partners, while the latter involves similar actions, but between people with other relationships such as neighbors, co-workers, or business partners.
A domestic violence lawyer can be of tremendous assistance to a victim. While it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to seek help from the state court system, a lawyer experienced in the field knows what to do and understands the realities of domestic violence situations.
Domestic violence lawyer can protect the victim
When domestic violence occurs, the most immediate need is for the victim to be protected from the perpetrator. Many victims don’t know how to do that. They often feel trapped by a lack of resources or network of supporting family members or friends. Consequently, these victims often suffer from violence over a period of time before getting help.
A domestic violence lawyer can show victims the way out of their predicaments. This normally involves two things:
1) Finding a safe place to live
2) Obtaining a legal order to prevent contact between the perpetrator and the victim
Lawyers who specialize in domestic abuse and violence are turned into community-based resources that help victims. These often include women and children shelters where victims can come and stay while their problems are being sorted out. In addition, these lawyers can go to court and help you obtain a restraining order to prevent your abuser from contacting or coming near you.
Domestic violence lawyer can file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim
In severe cases, victims of domestic violence may incur costs for medical treatment and may lose wages by being unable to work. A lawyer can help you file a lawsuit to recover such damages, as well as to receive payment for pain and suffering.
Domestic violence lawyer can help the victim in filing for divorce
As you might expect, domestic violence by a spouse is often a precursor to divorce. Why should an abused spouse stay married to someone who inflicts physical and emotional damage? A domestic violence lawyer can help victims navigate the messy terrain of divorce. Some victims may initially see divorce as out of the question for various reasons. A lawyer can help them see more clearly the options available and point them toward resources that can help them break free from an abusive marriage.
Domestic violence lawyer can help the victim attain child custody
One of the most common reasons abused spouses stay in their marriages is for the sake of their children. An abusing spouse sometimes threatens to make sure the other spouse will lose custody or access to the children if she leaves. Some victims simply fear this result even without a stated threat. In any event, a domestic violence lawyer can assess the circumstances and advise the victim about how child custody might play out in the event of a divorce.
Domestic violence lawyer can help the victim receive spousal support
Another common reason for staying in an abusive relationship is money. Victims may fear that they will be left without resources for them or their children. Domestic violence lawyers help victims receive spousal support (alimony) from their ex-spouses, as well as child support payments. Victims often fear the worst on these issues when, in reality, the law is on their side. Lawyers play a big role in making sure victims receive fair treatment.
Domestic violence lawyer represents the victim in court
A key area in which domestic violence lawyers play a large role is representing victims in court and dealing with their abusers. This takes a big load off the victims and allows them to breathe much easier through the course of gaining relief from a domestic violence nightmare.
Domestic violence is a very emotional issue, and emotion often interferes with clear thinking. Contacting a domestic violence lawyer is the best first step toward dealing effectively with an abusive relationship.