When to File for a Domestic Violence Protective Order

Lately, I’ve had a number of people ask me whether they should file for, or if I could help them file, a Complaint for a Domestic Violence Protective Order.  I take these complaints very seriously.  On the one hand, if there is domestic violence – you absolutely should file for a protective order.  I have seen or read about too many cases where women (sorry guys, women are normally the victims) are seriously injured, or even killed in situations where they should have contacted police or filed for a protective order.  Many women are scared of potential repurcussions or retaliation from their boyfriends/husbands, or they lull themselves into believing that the situation is going to get better and that “this was the last time.”  Unfortunately, if you are in an abusive relationship, it is not getting better and it was not the last time.

However, on the other side of the spectrum are people who use these protective orders as tools to get what they want while negotiating a separation agreement or a final divorce settlement.  If they want the spouse out of the house, they see a protective order as a way to accomplish that.  The harm that is done in these situations can be severe, especially where a wrongfully accused individual is thrown out of the house and prohibited from seeing their children.

I see this happen all to often.  A protective order, while important when used properly, should not be used as a tool to force one spouse out of the house or give a leg up in a custody dispute.