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Protect yourself from domestic violence in your divorce

If you are divorcing your spouse due to incidents involving domestic violence, your divorce will need to be handled a bit differently, and your family law attorney will likely file a temporary restraining order with the parish clerk of court's office along with your petition for divorce.

The reason for this is that your safety is paramount. But because some spouses seek the upper hand in divorce proceedings by making false allegations of abuse against the other, judges have to be savvy enough to determine which claims have merit and which do not.

If you have legitimate claims of domestic violence against your spouse, you should make sure that you do the following:

-- Once you are attacked by your spouse and get to a safe area, you should call 911. Calling someone else before the police can negate claims that you feared for your life or safety.

-- Cooperate with the police so that the incident is accurately documented and identify the responding officers by getting badge numbers and/or business cards. They will be vital in corroborating your account in court.

-- Prepare for your court date. If you are requesting a protective order, you and your attorney will have to lay out a solid case for the court that domestic violence has occurred and/or you are in fear of it occurring. But this order, while offering you some legal protections and recourse if it's violated, cannot actually keep you safe from an abuser's violence.

You must remain on guard and keep from allowing yourself to be alone and in your abuser's presence. The TRO will likely give you custody — at least for now — of the children to make sure that they are not in jeopardy either.

Source: Divorce Magazine, "4 Steps to Take If You Become Involved in a Domestic Violence Incident," Matthew Smurda, Aug. 18, 2016

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