Milwaukee Child Support Professionals

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What To Do When Things Get Violent

Domestic violence is no laughing matter; but, unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many couples, especially for those facing divorce.  The correct response to domestic violence-- both the practical response and the legal respone-- can make the difference, literally, between life and death.  It will certainly make a difference in the way that your divorce case turns out.


What is domestic violence?  Domestic violence comes in many forms, from the passive-aggressive to physical attacks.  The most typical scenario is an argument that escalates out of control, and ends with slapping, pushing, and the destruction of property.  Many times, there will be a police response.  Other times, though, domestic violence may be something as subtle as emotional blackmail.  It is not something that any person should tolerate, even for a short time.  


The mistakes people make.  People tolerate domestic, though, out of ignorance.  Some believe that if he leaves the home, he will be put at a disadvantage when comes to placement and custody of the children.  This is simply not the case.  In fact, if there is credible evidence that one party to a divorce has engaged in domestic violence, this is a factor that the judge will weigh heavily against that person in the event of a placement dispute. 


Others believe that, if she leaves the home, she will be put at a severe economic disadvantage.  Again, this is simply not the case.  Once a divorce action is filed, the parties may apply for temporary order; and, if it is an emergency, the court can order that the motion hearing take place immediately.  At the temporary orders hearing, the judge will make orders for placement, child support, and payment of bills.  Significantly, the judge will also make a decision about who will live in the family home.  It is almost always the parent who receives temporary physical placement of the children.  Therefore, even if you leave home, if you are likely to be awarded temporary physical placement of the children, you are likely to be placed back into the home at the temporary orders hearing.


Finally, some people stay in the home because she believes that he will change.  Again, statistics demonstrate that those who engage in domestic violence are very likely to do so again; unless there is professional intervention.   Leaving the home after even the first incidence of violence, and demanding that your spouse seek professional intervention may, in fact, be what saves your marriage.   Most family law attorneys have relationships with family therapists and psychologistswho can provide professional intervention.  Staying in home with no intevention-- and simply hoping that it doesn't happen again-- is crazy. It is magical thinking.  


A divorce action may be commenced in very short order, with only simple preparations. More importantly, the filing of a divorce action is not a point of no return.  The divorce procedure in Wisconsin is designed to move slowly, and to encourage couples to reconcile.  If there is domestic violence in your home, you should immediately contact a family law attorney.  


What are the legal ramifications of domestic violence?  There are significant legal consequences for domestic violence.  As mentioned above, it is a significant factor in deciding custody and placement disputes.   Additionally, if one of the parties has engaged in domestic violence, the court may dispense with the mediation requirement that otherwise must be ordered.  Another more immediate legal consequence of domestic violence is that the court may issue a restraining order.     This can be done at the temporary orders hearing, and it does not require a separate legal action.  If one parent is ordered to have no contact with his or her estranged spouse, that truly is an obstacle in the pending divorce action.


The disadvantage of a restraining order in a divorce case is well-known.  Therefore, some unscrupulous people will make false claims of domestic violence in order to have the other parent arrested, perhaps criminallly charged, and ordered to have no contact.  If this happens to you, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.  This is not something that you should simply shrug off because, as mentioned above, there are grave consequences in your divorce for a finding of domestic violence.


Threfore, if your marriage is crumbling, whether you are the husband or the wife, the worst thing that you can do for yourself is to either engage in domestic violence, or to tolerate domestic violence.  A far better approach to divorce is to peacefully collaboratewith your spouse.