How to Protect Yourself from Domestic Violence During a Divorce

Domestic violence is a serious issue that cannot be ignored.  There are several tools available to protect spouses who have concerns regarding domestic abuse when they initiate a divorce filing, including protective orders, restraining orders, community resources, and proactive planning.

If you are contemplating divorce and are concerned that your spouse may become violent, we encourage you to call our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce and domestic violence attorney. We also encourage you to read through the following article to learn more about the legal tools and options that could potentially help protect you from domestic violence.

What is a Protective Order Proceeding?

A protective order proceeding is a separate legal proceeding where a party, generally without an attorney, fills out a petition asking the court to issue orders without a hearing to protect them against domestic violence (the court can also issue orders based on stalking or harassment, but immediate orders focus on domestic violence).

The person completing the petition must identify specific incidents which demonstrates domestic violence or threats of domestic violence.  It is very important to be as specific as possible.   The court may deny the order if the information provided does not explain when the episode happened, who was present, and how it amounts to domestic violence.

Mere name-calling may not be enough for a protective order, but name calling which includes threats of domestic violence or damage to property may be enough.   Although not legally required, the Court generally wants to see multiple incidents which are relatively recent.

What Happens if A Protective Order Petition is Granted in Indiana?

If a protective order petition is granted, the court may remove the other party from the residence and order them to stay away from the Petitioner’s place of employment or other locations.   This order is filed with a central state registry which can be accessed by law enforcement.

If a party violates the court’s order, the party may be arrested and charged criminally with invasion of privacy.

How Long Do Protective Orders Generally Last in Indiana?

A protective order generally lasts two years.

Can I Seek a Protective Order for My Child during an Indiana Divorce?

A party may also seek a protective order on behalf of a child, but generally, the petition must allege domestic violence involving the minor child.  A party may also ask the court to grant additional orders, such as financial assistance or parenting time orders.

Can My Ex-Spouse Challenge a Protective Order?

The party who is the subject of a protective order may request a hearing from the court to contest the allegations in the petition and ask the court to reverse the issuance of the order.

If the court denies the initial ex parte petition, the court will likely set the petition for a hearing within 30 days or so.  The party filing the petition will need to come forward with their witnesses and documents to support their petition.   If a divorce is pending, the protective order court will likely transfer the case to the divorce court to ensure that all issues are heard in one forum.

What Are Trial Rule 65e Restraining Orders?

These are orders issued in a divorce case which may preclude the parties from having contact.   This type of order is issued as part of a family law case; it is not a separate legal proceeding like a protective order.   This type of order generally requires a hearing before the court will issue it.

This type of order is not placed in a central registry where law enforcement would be able to find it.   Therefore, if violated, the remedy is contempt of court, not a criminal charge.  These orders typically last only while a divorce case is pending.

Community Programs Available to Help Domestic Violence Victims.

Often, there are agencies who help victims of domestic violence with protective orders, housing, counseling, and applying for government benefits.  Domestic violence victims often have a difficult time leaving their abuser for a variety of reasons – they may not have a good support system or access to financial resources to live on their own.  These agencies can help the victim and the children develop the skills they need to leave their abuser.

How to Plan Ahead to Potentially Avoid Domestic Violence During a Divorce

As experienced New Albany divorce and domestic violence lawyers, we often encourage domestic violence victims to make plans to stay with family or friends with the children for a few days when a case is filed.

We also encourage clients to remove important items from a residence before filing if there are real concerns that the other spouse may sell or destroy those items.   In very bad situations, we encourage clients to have a “go bag” of essential items – clothes and personal effects – in their car, so if they have to leave on short notice, they at least have the necessities with them.

In some cases, we encourage clients to set up separate bank accounts and transfer some of the marital funds to a separate account leading up to the divorce because the other spouse may attempt to remove the party’s access to joint accounts, or the other party may remove the money from the account.

Schedule A Consultation with an Experienced Indiana Divorce and Domestic Violence Protection Attorney.

If you are contemplating divorce but are concerned about the threat of domestic violence, we invite you to call our office to schedule a consultation with our compassionate domestic violence attorneys to learn more about your legal options for proactively seeking protection.

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