Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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It comes as no surprise to say that divorce and family issues can be very stressful and emotional for any individual.  Divorce can completely change an individual’s life, put their finances in peril, and leave them questioning where they are going to live. Dividing up things and time with kids can take parents away from the things they most value.  All of this can create an environment in which tensions are high and family members are prone to saying and doing things they might not otherwise. Relationships can become further eroded when loved ones lash out in the midst of stress and confusion.

Wisconsin family law attorneys are often inadvertently swept up in these emotions and passions because they represent family members, advocate for their best interests, and, often, have to advocate against the interests of others. Whether petitioning for sole custody or trying to force a spouse to hand over the keys to the house, family law attorneys can quickly become the “bad guys” who are ruining another individual’s life in the process.

Each family law attorney endeavors to represent their clients in the most effective and compassionate way possible, and to minimize lingering damage to relationships or to children. It is never the intention to bring harm to any other party, but the reality is that a divorce is rarely easy, and one side will often feel like they have lost.

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Not surprisingly, criminal acts of domestic violence by one spouse toward another frequently result in the filing of a divorce. In addition, frequently victims of domestic violence will seek a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to prevent the abusive spouse from having contact with the abused party or even with the children. Whether you are the alleged victim or the alleged abuser, there are strategy considerations to consider in deciding how to deal with this emotional and sometimes dangerous situation.

First, both parties should understand that a domestic violence accusation complicates a divorce case in several ways. If a restraining/injunction is granted, this means that the parties will not be able to have any contact without a specific exception from the court for divorce related issues. These exceptions may not be granted, particularly if the court has reason to believe that one party may be endangered. This means all efforts to pay bills, get kids to school or daycare, attend medical appointments, address holidays, etc may fall to the spouse who has placement. Both sides under these circumstances are well advised to retain a lawyer to try to obtain court orders that work around the impediments a no contact order can cause.

If a criminal case is going on at the same time as the divorce, the judge in the criminal case may impose his own no contact order as a condition of release on bail, which overrides any other court order in the divorce. Again, having a lawyer, preferably the same lawyer for the divorce and the criminal matter, is essential to coordinating the criminal and the family law courts. If both sides have attorneys, sometimes it is possible to negotiate a temporary order in a divorce that makes an injunction unnecessary or allows a criminal court judge to feel comfortable relaxing a no contact order in the criminal case. Sometimes, having absolutely no contact is not what the victim really wants and instead just wants the violence to stop and the spouse to get help. While that result seems reasonable on the surface, there are several possible impediments to such a resolution and having reasonable lawyers on both sides will increase the odds of a rationale result in all forums.

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Domestic violence charges are a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Even being charged (not convicted) could lead you to lose your job and your reputation. Domestic violence charges are typically brought when the victim and perpetrator are in some type of relationship. It can be marriage, a civil union, or even simply a couple that is dating. Domestic violence takes place when one person inflicts physical or emotional harm on another. It can also encompass causing damage to someone else’s property or threatening to cause such harm.

Under Wisconsin law, domestic violence occurs when a person inflicts pain or injury, commits a sexual assault, or commits a physical act that causes the victim fear of any pain, injury, or sexual abuse. Depending on the nature and severity of the domestic violence, an individual can be charged with any of the following crimes:  misdemeanor battery, felony battery, disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and stalking. In some states, violence against family or household members is punished more severely. This is not the case in Wisconsin unless the perpetrator is a repeat offender.

A police officer in the state must make an arrest and take the defendant into custody if the officer reasonably believes that the perpetrator has committed an act of domestic violence against a spouse, former spouse, girlfriend, a person with whom the defendant resides,  a person with whom the defendant has previously resided, or a person with whom the defendant has children, assuming that any of the three following factors apply. These are the likelihood of continued abuse, evidence of physical injury to the victim, or evidence that the defendant is the predominant aggressor when the relationship is examined as a whole. Continue reading →