Domestic violence is a tragic reality that affects thousands of individuals and families every year. It's not just a criminal matter; it has profound implications on family law matters too. This article provides a comprehensive overview of how to handle domestic violence issues in family law within the context of Missouri law.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or family violence, involves patterns of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It can take various forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, economic, and psychological abuse.
Implications of Domestic Violence in Family Law in Missouri
Domestic violence can significantly impact family law matters, such as divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, and spousal support determinations.
Divorce: In Missouri, domestic violence can be grounds for divorce and may influence the court's decision on property division and spousal maintenance.
Child Custody: The presence of domestic violence in a household is a serious consideration in child custody cases. Missouri courts prioritize the child's best interests, and a history of domestic violence may limit or impact a parent's custody or visitation rights.
Protection Orders: Victims of domestic violence can seek protection through Orders of Protection. In Missouri, there are two types of protection orders: Adult Order of Protection and Child Order of Protection.
Steps to Take When Facing Domestic Violence
1. Ensure Safety: The immediate priority is to ensure the safety of yourself and any children involved. This might involve leaving the home and going to a safe place, such as a trusted friend's house or a domestic violence shelter.
2. Report the Abuse: Victims should report incidents to local law enforcement. Documentation can be crucial in family law cases.
3. Seek Legal Protection: Apply for an Order of Protection. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through this process.
4. Gather Evidence: Document incidents of abuse, including dates, times, locations, and what occurred. Keep a record of medical reports, photographs of injuries, and witness statements.
5. Hire a Family Law Attorney: A skilled attorney can provide crucial advice, represent you in court, and work to protect your rights and interests.
Addressing domestic violence issues in family law is a complex process, requiring careful navigation of the legal system. It is essential to work with a knowledgeable family law attorney who understands the intricacies of Missouri law and can provide the support and representation you need.