One of the scariest parts of domestic violence is feeling like you have no one to turn to. Taking any sort of action toward escaping your abuser can be too daunting unless you have someone by your side to provide much needed support.
Regarding legal issues, it is extremely important for any victim of domestic violence to consider hiring a family lawyer. Here are a few reasons why:
Divorce and Maintaining Child Custody. If you are married or have children with your abuser, you may want to get a divorce or move out, but still maintain custody of your children. This is when a family lawyer’s expertise really comes in handy.
Family lawyers focus on a few key issues: divorce proceedings, child support and custody, and domestic violence. These proceedings and decisions may all happen at once, and family lawyers can help you get the rights, assets, and financial support that belong to you. Family lawyers are also able to show you different ways of getting back on your feet and finding emotional relief after going through such traumatic experiences.
You deserve the assets you came into your partnership with, the alimony and custody appropriate for raising your children, and for all of this to be over in a timely fashion. Family lawyers can help you with all of this and more.
Getting a Protective Order. There are four types of protective orders, often referred to as restraining orders, available in Florida: domestic, repeat, dating, and sexual. In the case of domestic violence, protective orders will be issued if a spouse, blood or marriage relative, co-parent, or roommate is found guilty of the following:
- False imprisonment
- Other crimes that result in physical injury
An emergency, or ex parte, restraining order can be filed and will last for 15 days if a judge believes that you are in imminent danger. It can be issued while hearings are being scheduled. A general protection order can be issued and will last for up to one year. A family lawyer can speed these processes up and prove to the court that protective orders must be issued for your wellbeing and safety.
You May Have to Testify Against Your Abuser in Court. No matter where you are in the process of separating yourself from your abuser, you may need some coaching on how to properly represent yourself and speak to law enforcement and members of the courtroom.
Depending on your situation, you may have already spoken with the police about domestic violence incidents in the past. If you want to obtain a restraining order or get a divorce from your abuser, your interactions with law enforcement have just begun. An attorney will be able to help you figure out what is okay and what is not okay to tell police, your abuser, and people in the courtroom.
This is especially important because your abuser’s lawyer may argue that your accusations are false and that you have accused your abuser for financial or spiteful reasons. Don’t let this story be the one that the judge and jury believe.
Filing a Lawsuit for Damages. Once you are finished filing for divorce or a restraining order, your emotional trauma, physical injuries, and other consequences of domestic violence do not just disappear. You are still able to sue your abuser for the physical and financial damages that he or she cost you while you were being abused. A family lawyer can help you file this lawsuit, and you could possibly win money to cover the following:
- Lost income from missing days at work
- Hospital bills and other medical expenses
- Physical or emotional therapy
- Emotional distress
Your Abuser Has the Right to a Free Attorney – You Do Not. This is a shameful fact, but it is how our legal system works. As the defendant in a case, an abuser has the right to legal representation. He or she will not have to pay for a lawyer if they can’t afford it. Domestic violence victims, whether they are the plaintiff or a witness, do not have this same right.
If you are taking the stand against your abuser, you’re also taking a stand against your abuser’s lawyer. Even out the playing field by hiring an experienced family attorney who can dedicate the time and effort (not to mention their legal acumen) to representing you. It will greatly increase your chances of getting a restraining order against your abuser (you have an 86% chance of getting a protection order with a lawyer, and 32% chance without a lawyer!) and ultimately winning your case.
Do not think that just because you do not have a lot of money, that you cannot afford an experienced domestic violence lawyer. Call today for a 20-minute free consultation with a fairly priced family lawyer.