COVID-19 > Social Distancing > Family Violence
Social distancing has become the new normal here in North Texas and across most of the United States as we work together to stop or slow down COVID-19. This necessary evil has given rise to an increase in another scourge, family violence. Police in North Texas report an increase in domestic disturbance and abuse calls since people have begun to spend significantly larger amounts of time at home. Doubtless, the increased anxiety many are feeling during this time is further exacerbating to the problem. What can you do if you or your child is a victim of family violence?
The first thing you must do, if you are able, is get yourself and your family to a safe place. If you are in the process of being assaulted, or if you are otherwise afraid for your immediate safety, call 9-1-1. If you are not currently under immediate threat, find a new place for you and your child to stay for a short time. Unfortunately, many organizations offering shelter to people who are living with their abusers, such as Hope’s Door in Plano, Texas, have been forced to close their doors during the pandemic. Try to find a friend or family member where you can stay for a short period of time or secure a hotel if you have the financial resources to do so.
After you have secured you and your child’s immediate safety, contact a family law attorney who can assist you in obtaining a Protective Order. A person who is a victim of family violence or the parent of a child who is the victim of family violence may obtain an order called a “Protective Order” which orders the person who is committing family violence (the “Respondent”) to vacate a shared residence immediately and to maintain a specific distance from his or her significant other and/or children or other members of the household (“Protected Persons”). If the Respondent violates the order and comes closer to the Protected Person(s) while the Protective Order is in place, then law enforcement is required to arrest the Respondent regardless of whether or not the Respondent committed any crime in addition to violating the distance requirements of the Protective Order. While not perfect, a Protective Order is the best tool the law has available to protect you and your family from an abuser.
The process for obtaining a Protective Order typically begins with applying for and obtaining a Temporary Protective Order. This order is secured by filing an application and including with the application a sworn statement from the Applicant describing the family violence that has occurred and explaining why the Applicant believes family violence is likely to occur in the future. The Court considers these applications for a Temporary Protective Order without having a hearing. Therefore, these orders can typically be obtained the same day or the day after an initial consultation takes place. If the Court signs the Temporary Protective Order, it is effective immediately and will remain in place for a period of 21 days, or until the Court is able to have a full, contested hearing on the matter, whichever occurs first.
Prior to entering a Final Protective Order, the Court will hear testimony and review evidence at a contested hearing where both sides are heard. Evidence that is helpful to have available at a hearing on a request for a Protective Order includes eye-witness testimony, video recordings, audio recordings, photographs (especially of injuries sustained from family violence), police reports, text messages or emails (where the Respondent admits to the family violence), and medical records. If you are assaulted by a member of your household, be sure that you create and retain as much of this type of evidence as possible.
Contact A Family Law Attorney
Your best weapon in any family law case is to have an excellent family law attorney to advise and represent you. At Albin Oldner Law, PLLC, we have the experience, the expertise, and the compassion you need if you find yourself or your child in an abusive situation. For more information or to schedule your appointment for a consultation email us or give us a call at (214) 225-9138 to discuss how we can assist you in taking that first brave step to safety.