DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/ABUSE & DIVORCE
The term, “Domestic Abuse” is defined under Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-14-101 (2) as follows:
“Domestic Abuse means any act or threatened act of violence that is committed by any person against another person to whom the actor is currently or was formerly related, or with whom the actor is living or has lived in the same domicile, or with whom the actor is involved or has been involved in an intimate relationship. “Domestic Abuse” may also include any act or threatened act of violence against the minor children of either of the parties.”
For parties who are going through a divorce or child custody case, acts of Domestic Violence are relevant for the Court’s consideration in several ways. The most common way that incidents of Domestic Violence are involved in the Family court, is where the parties have children. Sometimes one or both of the parties have obtained Civil Protection Orders. Those Civil Protection Orders are commonly referred to as Restraining Orders, or Protection Orders. The elements of a Civil Protection Order is governed by Colorado Revised Statutes Sections 13-14-101, et. seq. For anyone who has been served with a restraining order it is always advisable to consider the serious impact that a restraining order will have, and immediately contact a lawyer.
Certain Domestic Abuse/Violence acts are “crimes” as defined by Colorado law. The arrest and/or conviction of a Domestic Violence crime may effect what happens in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Legal representation is therefore, essential. This is particularly true when a divorce ensues and a parent faces the prospect of being kept from having contact with their children. When a crime has been committed, and an arrest has been made, an automatic restraining order will go into effect that most certainly will limit the contact a parent has with the children. Some parents manipulate the legal system by filing frivolous or bogus restraining orders that are meant to restrict a parent’s contacts with children. This also happens when a spouse calls the police and reports the commission of a Domestic Violence crime.
Because the “best interests of children” are affected whenever Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse is present, the family court will seriously consider any threats to the children’s safety by an abusive parent, even if the children were not present during any such incident. The final outcome of any Restraining Orders or Criminal charges will be taken into consideration by the judge. For a parent that is merely charged with a Domestic Violence crime, the judge has the power to limit the contact with the children and most likely only allow “supervised parenting time visits.” A Restraining Order in Colorado will protect children named in the order for a maximum of only 120 days (4 months), but a court order from the family law judge can have long term authority.
Here is an example of a Divorce case where the court considered the evidence of a Domestic Violence arrest and conviction: After many years of abuse, the Wife and Mother of three children, decided that she could no longer reside with her Husband and decided to move out of the marital home. Over 2 years prior to moving out, the Husband had been arrested and convicted of several Domestic Violence crimes, including Felony Menacing. After his conviction the Husband went to jail and was on probation for 2 years. Soon after the Wife moved out, she filed for and obtained a Civil Protection Order that required her Husband to stay at least 100 feet away from her. On the same day that she obtained the Civil Protection Order, she hired me to represent her in a Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) case. The Civil Protection Order was granted by the judge and became “permanent.” At the restraining order hearing, the Wife told the judge that she “lived in constant fear, and her Husband had a violent temper and was a chronic alcoholic.” The judge in the Divorce case relied upon Colorado law, in finding that the “best interests of the children” required the children to be protected from their father. The judge ordered supervised parenting time to protect the children, and entered a lengthy order detailing the conditions that had to be met by the father in order to regain his parenting rights.
There are many forms of Domestic Abuse that will come into play in a divorce:
- Physical or Emotional/Mental Abuse;
- Patterns of manipulation and control;
- A history of alcohol, drug or controlled substance abuse;
- Sexual Abuse or control;
- Anger Disorders.
It is important to understand that any type of abusive conduct may have serious consequences for a judge in deciding parenting time or visitation. A lawyer who has experience representing parents in these kinds of cases can properly direct and advise clients how they can go about restoring their parenting rights. If there is a history of alcohol or drug abuse there are treatment programs that may also be of benefit in the Family court case. There are many professionals in the Colorado Springs areas who offer these types of treatments or psycho-therapy and work with lawyers in both the Criminal and Family courts. Only when successful treatment is obtained can parents make safe and healthy choices for their children and themselves. Judges are particularly interested in protecting children’s safety whenever Domestic Violence or Abuse has been or is present.
Call Gordon N. Shayne at 719-442-6649 for a
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