When domestic violence is present in a relationship, or threats of violence have been made, a restraining order may be necessary to protect all parties involved. Often, the need for a restraining order presents itself during a breakup or divorce, when tensions are at an all-time high. A restraining order, also called a protective order, can affect family law proceedings in a number of ways. This post covers how orders of protection may impact legal proceedings, child custody, and financial matters.

Obtaining an Order of Protection

An order of protection is issued by a judge to limit the interaction between two people when there is a threat of harm. The judge will determine what limitations are necessary, which may include ordering the offending person to stay physically distant, cease all contact, and/or vacate the residence. You can request an order of protection against a family member, parent of your child, or current/former spouse by filing a petition in family court. A judge can issue a temporary restraining order very quickly, without immediate proof of violence or harassment, while the threat of harm is investigated. After the case is closed, the judge may issue a permanent order of protection, which can last one to five years.

Divorcing with a Restraining Order

When one or both spouses have a protective order in place against the other, the parties will not typically be allowed near each other, even to negotiate a divorce settlement. In some situations, spouses will be barred from communicating by phone call, email, or text message as well. However, divorcing spouses can still work cooperatively through their attorneys to negotiate an agreeable settlement, without the need for costly litigation.

Spousal support, also called maintenance or alimony, may be ordered to financially support the lower-earning spouse on a temporary or permanent basis. Spousal support is based on need and ability to pay, and is not intended to punish a former spouse for any wrongdoing. However, if a judge finds a spouse committed acts of violence that were detrimental to the other spouse’s ability to support him/herself, spousal support will often be awarded. If your spouse used threats, coercion, or violence to deter you from going to work or school, you may want to seek a restraining order.

Child Custody and Visitation with a Restraining Order

A restraining order against your former or current spouse may or may not prevent them from seeing or contacting your children. A judge will assess the risk and determine what limits should be placed on the offending person’s behavior and rights to their children. However, child custody and visitation matters are always decided based on the “best interest of the child.” Any history of domestic violence will be taken seriously when determining the arrangement that best meets the child’s needs. Supervised visits may be ordered until certain conditions have been met. If an order of protection restricts contact between spouses but does not involve children, the judge may order custody exchanges take place at a police station or with a neutral party.

Family Law Attorneys in Albany, NY

For legal assistance, contact the Colwell Law Group, LLC to request a consultation. Our Greene County domestic violence lawyers are prepared to assist you immediately.