Handling Domestic Violence Cases: The Role of Family Lawyers in Ensuring Safety and Justice

The family unit is supposed to be a place where everyone can feel safe, secure, and loved. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many families across the country and within the State of Utah as well. One of the biggest threats to family happiness and safety is domestic violence.

If you or your children have been the victims of domestic violence, we understand that this is a very difficult and stressful situation. You may be unsure of what to do or where to turn. The family lawyers at Brown Family Law are dedicated to helping domestic violence victims receive invaluable legal help and advice in times of need.

The team at Brown Family Law is here to help. Call us 24/7 at 801-685-9999 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with an experienced domestic violence lawyer.

How Family Lawyers Help Domestic Violence Victims

There are a number of reasons why a victim of domestic violence may need to work with a family lawyer.

For example, an individual may need the help of a lawyer when handling the following matters:

  • Prenuptial agreements: Prenuptial agreements can reduce conflicts after a divorce and clearly list pre-marital assets and property.
  • Establishing paternity: Whether paternity is disputed or not, establishing paternity can be important, especially when a child is born to unmarried parents.
  • Divorce proceedings: Family lawyers can help spouses with divorce proceedings, whether the divorce is contested or not. This can include coming to agreements on subjects such as alimony, child custody, visitation, and property division. The assistance of a lawyer can be invaluable for a victim who is divorcing an abusive spouse.
  • Modifications: Even after an order has come into effect, circumstances can change. Family lawyers assist families in making necessary modifications to standing agreements and orders, such as with child custody arrangements, child support, and alimony payments.
  • Dispute resolution: Often, both sides are unable to come to an agreement on important issues. Mediators can be an essential tool to ensure collaboration, helping both parties agree on terms without needing to go to court.

Domestic Violence: A Sad Reality

Domestic violence continues to be a cause for concern across the United States. While there are various supports available, stigmas and fears often prevent victims from seeking needed help.

Domestic violence is an umbrella term that is used to describe many different types of violence and abuse between cohabitants or those in an intimate relationship. Domestic abuse covers much more than causing physical harm.

According to the Utah code, domestic violence includes a variety of offenses, including:

  • Assault or aggravated assault
  • Harassment
  • Homicide
  • Electronic communication harassment
  • Kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping
  • Sexual offences
  • Stalking
  • Child abuse
  • Threatening violence
  • Threatening use of a dangerous weapon
  • Property destruction
  • Burglary or robbery
  • Criminal trespass
  • Unlawful detention
  • Unlawful distribution of an intimate image

Domestic violence statistics

Domestic violence is a sad reality for thousands across Utah. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 33.6 percent of Utah women and 21.4 percent of Utah men experience physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.

The same report highlighted a concerning statistic. In 2020, while 3,168 adult and child clients were served in Utah domestic violence shelters, another 2,191 requests for shelter were unable to be met.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline statistics show the seriousness of this problem across the United States:

  • Over 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner in their lifetime
  • 81 percent of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence from an intimate partner reported significant impacts (short-term or long-term) like injuries or PTSD symptoms
  • Children witnessed violence in nearly 1 in 4 intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts
  • 30 to 60 percent of intimate violence perpetrators also abuse children in the household

Know Your Options When Suffering Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, it is important to remember that you are not alone. You have options available to you for help and support.

Your abuser may try to downplay his or her actions, even blaming you for what happened. But domestic violence is a crime and should be taken seriously. If you find yourself experiencing domestic violence, one of the first things you can do is call the police.

The Utah Domestic Violence Hotline can be contacted at 800-897-LINK(5465), and the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be contacted at 800-799-SAFE(7233). These hotlines can connect you with support and resources that are available for you and your children.

If you are unsure of your rights or what to do, a divorce consultation with the family lawyers at Brown Family Law can offer the support and legal assistance you need as well.

Protective Orders in Utah

A protective order (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) is a binding court order that places certain restrictions.

For example, the respondent can be ordered to:

  • Not contact or communicate with the people listed on the order
  • Stay away from the petitioner’s place of work, home, school, or place of worship
  • Not commit violence against the people listed on the order
  • Not possess or buy a firearm or other weapon

While a protective order is a civil order, violating a protective order is a crime that should be reported to the police.

There are different types of protective orders. Certain types of protective orders are available when dealing with a dating partner, stranger sexual assault/violence, workplace violence, and stalking. A protective order can also be filed on behalf of a minor child who is being abused or in danger of abuse.

A cohabitant protective order refers to people who:

  • Are current or former spouses
  • Are current or former sexual partners
  • Live together or used to live together
  • Are related as a parent, step-parent, child, step-child, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew
  • Have or had children together, or are expecting a child

A cohabitant protective order can be put in place if you have suffered physical harm, threats of violence or physical harm, or domestic violence.

How Family Lawyers Play a Role in Keeping You and Your Children Safe

At Brown Family Law, family safety is our priority. Our family lawyers assist domestic violence victims in navigating the divorce system. This can include helping you file a protective order, find support services, gain independence, and make child custody arrangements.

Helping you get a protective order

After the paperwork is filed with the court, the judge can sign a temporary protective order, which goes into effect once the respondent is served. In most cases, a hearing on the temporary order must be scheduled within 21 days.

During this hearing, the petitioner will have the opportunity to explain his or her case to the judge and present witnesses and evidence. The respondent will also have the opportunity to present questions and testimony.

Having an experienced family lawyer on your side can be very helpful at this hearing. Your lawyer can ensure that all court rules and timelines are respected, all documentation is properly completed and filed, and appropriate evidence and testimony are provided.

Protective orders are often necessary for immediate and emergency protection. Your family lawyer will also work with you to find permanent legal solutions for the safety of you and your children.

Helping you find support services

There are various resources and support services available to victims of domestic violence. However, it can be intimidating and overwhelming to look for help. Victims need someone to confide in who understands their situation as well as practical help and guidance to rebuild their lives.

Our family lawyers have experience working with different domestic violence cases and are familiar with the various resources available to victims. Not only do our lawyers offer both legal and emotional support to our clients, but we can also connect victims to existing services that can aid in their recovery.

Helping you gain independence

Many domestic violence cases involve financial abuse, which can come in different forms, such as:

  • Preventing the victim from getting a job
  • Taking the victim’s savings or income
  • Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts
  • Giving an allowance and tracking expenditures

In reality, financial abuse is about control. The abuser likely knows that controlling and monitoring finances makes it more difficult for the victim to leave and start over.

Family lawyers help domestic violence victims regain financial independence as well as take care of themselves in a safe environment away from the abuse.

Helping you make child custody arrangements

An abuser may try to use your children against you. He or she may threaten to take the children away, use them as bargaining chips, or make you feel like nobody will believe your side of the story.

Family lawyers play an important role in advocating for victims and ensuring the rights of their children are protected. A major part of this involves making child custody arrangements.

Domestic violence has a large impact on making or modifying child custody arrangements. When you work with a family lawyer, he or she will fight to ensure any arrangements protect the interests of you and your children.

Call Brown Family Law for Help Getting Justice

Trying to navigate legal proceedings while also dealing with domestic abuse can be particularly emotionally challenging. Family lawyers play a crucial role in reducing the burden of domestic violence victims and advocating for the best interests of them and their children.

When you do not know what to do or where to turn, the family lawyers at Brown Family Law are here to help. A free, confidential consultation can give you the resources and information you need to get help for you and your children.

We want to help abuse victims make informed decisions. Our team is experienced in family law and can help you understand the effect domestic violence has on child custody arrangements and divorce proceedings, as well as the legal options available to victims.

The experienced team at Brown Family Law is here for you. Contact us 24/7 at 801-685-9999 to schedule your free, confidential legal consultation today.

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