domestice abuse

Seeking Divorce to Escape Domestic Violence

October is a Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and unfortunately, domestic violence is a growing problem in Colorado.  In 2011, Colorado domestic violence service providers received over 61,000 crisis phone calls—a 58% increase over the past five years.[1]

With domestic violence reporting on the rise, this issue is likely to be present in more family law cases (divorce, custody, etc) as well.  Therefore, it is essential that clients and lawyers be aware of the ways in which domestic violence may affect divorce proceedings, including attorney-client relationships.

Seeking Immediate Protection

Victims of domestic abuse often endure verbal and/or physical assaults for years before deciding enough is enough.  However, when they get the courage to take a stand and leave their abusive partners, victims are aware that their abusers may retaliate.

A restraining order may be necessary to protect you and/or your children from an abusive spouse.  A Colorado family lawyer cannot help you acquire a restraining order.  To get a restraining order against a household member, you must contact TESSA (719-633-3819), a non-profit organization that provides no-cost confidential assistance for domestic violence victims, both women and men.  To get an emergency protective order, you should call 911 for immediate help from a police officer.

Moving Forward

Once you are sure of your physical safety and that of your children, you can proceed with the next steps of the divorce process or child custody process for unmarried individuals.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may file a petition for divorce while a restraining order is in effect.  Although you may consider filing for divorce on your own, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Colorado family attorney who will “have your back” during this emotionally charged process.  A qualified family lawyer, with a great team of paralegals, will     navigate the divorce process, pursue a fair settlement regarding spousal maintenance and/or child support as well as fight for child custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child(ren).  It is possible that these arrangements may entail limiting or eliminating time spent with the parent who has a history of domestic violence.  A Colorado family law attorney will also be certain to recommend the appropriate child custody experts to help establish a parenting plan that is in the child(ren)’s best interests.

If you have been accused of domestic violence and your divorce involves minor children, you should consult a family lawyer immediately.  Your lawyer will counsel you about the best time to file.  Likely, he or she may tell you to wait until a temporary restraining order expires as Colorado’s “Best Interest” standards do not permit custody/visitation to a parent against whom a protective order is still in effect.

It is important for victims of domestic violence to retain a highly skilled lawyer throughout divorce proceedings and, to the greatest extent possible, limit communication with the opposing party.  Domestic violence victims have a history of being manipulated, and that is not likely to stop with the divorce petition.  Some abusive partners may act on their best behavior and try to talk their partner into coming back and/or proceeding without a lawyer.  Beware, that usually does not bode well for the abused party.

Domestic violence perpetrators typically have controlling personalities, and they will manipulate those they think are weaker to get what they want.  Victims attempting to proceed without legal counsel expose themselves to the influences of the manipulator, again.  This may compromise a domestic violence victim’s ability to make rational decisions that are in their best interests and the best interests of their children.

An effective Colorado family lawyer is an objective third party who can more clearly see long-term consequences of decisions, understands the “Best Interest” standards and will continually work toward the best outcomes for his or her clients.

Finding the Right Lawyer for You

Victims of domestic violence must carefully select their attorney.  Victims should be cautious not to place themselves in a position to be manipulated.  Some attorneys can be controlling as well, dismissing their clients’ needs and preferences.

To find a Colorado family lawyer who is a good fit for you, look for someone who listens, shows compassion, remains calm and is a strategist who will keep you informed of the case proceedings.

Gordon N. Shayne is an excellent attorney for those seeking to end an abusive marriage.  Mr. Shayne has focused his practice on family law for over 13 years.  He listens to clients’ needs, provides compassionate counsel and acts as your liaison with opposing counsel and opposing party so that you are not in the position to be manipulated into compromising your best interests and those of your children.  Contact the Law Office of Gordon N. Shayne to discuss your case.


Disclaimer: The blogs posted on are offered for informational purposes only.  These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance.  Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional.  To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney

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