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Restraining Orders during a Divorce

During a divorce, restraining orders are normally issued when domestic violence is involved. In some states a restraining order is automatically issued when either party, or an outside party, reports domestic violence, with or without the consent of the presumed victim.

A restraining order is sometimes used in court to prevent one parent from gaining custody of a child. Restraining orders are serious business and should not be taken lightly.

Limited real protection
For victims of domestic violence, restraining orders can be a useful tool, but should never be mistaken for true physical protection. A restraining order can have an impact in the courtroom. It can help the victim to get swifter action from police if they are in danger, and sometimes help encourage more routine patrols of the victim’s neighborhood or workplace. However, it is just a piece of paper. It will not, in and of itself, prevent an attack. In reality, no piece of paper will keep a determined abuser from committing an act of violence, and a restraining order can inflame a volatile partner. While it does afford legal protection, including a recorded history of victimization, should you be forced to take physical action to protect yourself, you should never forego real safety measures simply because you have a restraining order against someone.

Restraining Orders Are A Two-Way Street
A restraining order applies to both parties. While the order is technically “against” one party, the party who the restraining order favors still has a legal obligation to avoid contact if at all possible. Obtaining a restraining order against your spouse does not mean that his or her behavior is controlled, but you can still initiate contact. By requesting and obtaining a restraining order, you agree not to initiate any contact which violates the order. This can mean physical proximity within a certain specified distance, phone calls, communication in writing, or even messages relayed through a third party other than your attorney.

Duration Of A Restraining Order
A restraining order can be temporary, lasting for a specified amount of time, or permanent. Either party can request a restraining order modification, or you can jointly request a modification. Even if both parties request to modify or lift a restraining order, the judge may deem that it is in the best interest of the victim to keep the order in place, and refuse to modify or lift the order.

Restraining orders can be a helpful tool in a divorce, and in some situations are very appropriate. However, if you are considering seeking a restraining order against your spouse you should be aware that it is a very serious measure. Restraining orders can take on a life of their own, and once requested and granted the matter is out of your hands. It is a common misconception that the person seeking the restraining order can have it removed whenever they wish.

If you are facing divorce or separation, and have been a victim of domestic violence, contact an experienced divorce attorney today to find out if a restraining order is appropriate in your situation.

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