Monmouth County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Divorce and child custody disputes are often stressful, but if domestic violence has been an issue in your family dynamic, these cases become far more complicated. If you, your coparent, or your spouse have a documented history of domestic violence, it will affect the legal proceedings.
Be prepared by working with a Monmouth County domestic violence lawyer. A skilled legal professional can protect your rights, safeguard your children, and help you resolve your issues safely and fairly.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
In New Jersey, certain criminal acts are considered domestic violence in the civil context if the alleged victim is a spouse or former spouse, a member of the same household, a dating partner or former dating partner, or a coparent. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 lists 19 different acts that could be considered domestic violence in a domestic violence restraining order case, including assault, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, burglary, harassment, and stalking. Anyone accused of domestic violence may face criminal charges as well as a domestic violence restraining order, which are orders entered in a civil case.
The alleged victim of domestic violence can apply for a restraining order. The judge will issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to take immediate effect. The court will hold a hearing within ten days to speak with each party in person, ask questions, and determine whether the case must proceed to trial for the issuance of a final restraining order (FRO). Working with a Monmouth County domestic violence attorney to prepare for a restraining order hearing is critical because a final order usually remains in effect permanently.
Depending on the circumstances, the restraining order could forbid the accused from returning to their home, approaching the plaintiff, and attempting to communicate with the plaintiff in person, by phone, text, through social media, or via third parties. The order could address child support and child custody (including taking custody away) and require someone to provide financial support to the person protected by the order.
How Domestic Violence Can Impact Divorce Settlements
When one party to a divorce has a restraining order against the other, the spouses cannot meet to work out essential issues like property division, child custody, or alimony. Although judges often order mediation for divorcing couples to help them reach agreements, mediation requires a balanced power dynamic where both parties feel safe to state their positions and work together. Mediation is often inappropriate and ineffective when there is a history of domestic violence within a relationship. If a mediation is held with a restraining order in place, it would have to be held virtually by video, and the parties cannot be together in the same video conference. Rather, the mediation will have to go back and forth between the two parties and their attorneys to relate their positions to each other.
When mediation is not an option, a Monmouth County divorce attorney with experience navigating issues involving domestic violence can handle negotiations with the other spouse’s attorney. Working in close consultation with each spouse, the legal professionals could settle the outstanding issues and avoid an expensive divorce trial.
When a divorce case goes to trial, a judge can consider a history of domestic violence when making decisions about child custody. The law requires married couples to divide the marital property equitably, which does not necessarily mean evenly. A judge could decide that a spouse who has been the victim of domestic violence that limited their ability to obtain or maintain assets, or made them incur debts, needs more marital property to make them whole. Similarly, if an abusive relationship prevented a spouse from reaching their educational or professional potential, a judge might award that spouse more alimony or require spousal support for a longer period.
History of Domestic Violence Can Impact Child Custody
A history of domestic violence can influence a judge’s decisions regarding where a child lives, how much time they spend with the non-custodial parent, and whether the non-custodial parent will have to have supervised parenting time with their children. The law requires judges to base these decisions on the children’s best interests, and judges must consider the safety of the children and their parents when determining a custody plan. This is because it is proven that domestic violence against a parent often has a negative impact on children.
However, courts are aware that parents sometimes make false allegations of domestic violence to punish their coparent or prevent them from maintaining a relationship with the children. Any parent asserting the coparent has committed domestic violence must be prepared to prove it. Without proof, a judge could consider the allegation an attempt to interfere in the relationship between the coparent and the children. In addition, a court may not presume that someone who has committed violence toward a spouse or intimate partner will also be violent toward their child. In other words, domestic violence may in the end not have any impact on a custody determination at all. It depends on the facts and circumstances involved.
When a parent can prove domestic violence and that their coparent cannot provide a safe environment for their children, a judge could order visits with the children to be supervised by a social worker or other responsible adult. A Monmouth County custody attorney could advocate for or defend against supervised visitation in a specific case involving claims of domestic violence.
Consult a Monmouth County Domestic Violence Attorney About Your Family Law Matter
Family law matters are almost always challenging to navigate. A history of domestic violence between the involved parties leads to heightened emotions and difficulty in conducting fair negotiations or litigation. You need to work with an attorney who knows the family law implications of a history of domestic violence.
Contact a Monmouth County domestic violence lawyer if you are seeking or defending against a restraining order, or if a history of domestic violence impacts any kind of family law matter. Reach out to Moskowitz Law Group today to discuss your needs with a knowledgeable family law attorney.