Sometimes charges of domestic violence are long overdue, and are truly necessary to ensure that everyone in the family feels safe. In other cases, however, divorce or relational breakdown can lead to false accusations or situations where a small burst of emotion may have been blown out of proportion.
Being accused of domestic violence will seriously impact your life as well as your future overall. If someone has filed a temporary injunction against you, it is important to respond quickly in order to protect your rights, your relationships with your children, if you have them, and your future.
What does a temporary injunction mean?
Those who believe that they or their children are in imminent danger from a violent spouse or partner are encouraged to seek a temporary injunction. A temporary injunction, commonly known to the public as a restraining order, will restrict the alleged family member's contact with other family members for up to 15 days. The court doesn't require either the filer or the accused to be physically present to issue a temporary injunction.
If you have been served with a temporary injunction, it is important to follow the terms of the injunction - whether you feel it is justified or not. Your reaction to being served can have a strong impact on whether or not a final injunction is issued. A temporary injunction will cause temporary inconveniences, but a final injunction will permanently affect your life.
Temporary injunctions to final injunctions
After a temporary injunction has been served, the court will schedule a hearing within the following weeks to determine whether the injunction should be considered permanent. At the hearing, both sides explain their sides of the story regarding any incidents that were used as evidence for the injunction.
If the judge decides to issue a final injunction, often he or she will transfer the terms of the temporary injunction to the final injunction. However, some terms may be modified; for example, contact restrictions can be extended indefinitely or for a set period of time such as a year.
Long-term impacts of a final injunction
For a person who knows the relationship is over anyway, the idea of restricting contact might not seem so bad. However, contact restrictions could force you out of your home and reduce your ability to spend time with your children, if you have any - even if they are not listed as abused persons on the petition.
A final injunction can also have an immediate financial impact, as you may be asked to pay spousal or child support now that you do not live at home. In addition to being separated from your family, you may be required to undergo counseling or participate in anger management programs. You may also be stripped of your right to own a firearm.
Regardless of which side of this unfortunate situation you fall on, it's important to retain the help of a lawyer familiar with this two-step process. You want to work with someone you can trust, who understands the long-term implications of the charge and who can closely examine the situation to find a solution that protects your rights and safety.