Served with a Domestic Violence Injunction: Should I Care?
Being served with a Domestic Violence Injunction is an event that you should definitely be concerned about. There are several important legal issues surrounding a domestic violence injunction that need to be understood in order to avoid violating the injunction. Some of the most important legal issues to understand deal with the no contact order, the possession of a residence, recovery of personal effects, and custody of children. It is very important to contact a lawyer immediately if you are served with a domestic violence injunction so that they can walk you through the important issues.
If you are served with a domestic violence injunction it will always come with a no contact order. The no contact order is possibly the most important part of an injunction to understand. Many people accidently violate the terms of an injunction because they do not fully understand all of the different types of contact that are prohibited. A no contact order almost always comes with the order to not have any third party contact.
Third party contact is when the person who was served with the injunction (the respondent) asks someone else to relay a message to the person who is protected by the injunction (the petitioner). A common example is when the respondent asks a friend or relative to pass a message on to the petitioner. A court could even find a violation of third party contact from a respondent sending a neighbor to pick up clothes from the petitioner’s residence. Some additional examples of third party contact to avoid are posting about the petitioner on social media sites, sending texts or emails, or even passing messages through children.
Another very important legal issue involved in domestic violence injunctions is possession of the residence. It is typical for a judge to award exclusive possession of a jointly owned residence to the petitioner when an injunction is granted. The Respondent must leave immediately, and sometimes is not even afforded the time to gather personal belongings. In that situation the best course of action is to comply with the injunction and leave the residence immediately. You may ask your attorney to petition the court to allow you to return with law enforcement officers to pick up your belongings. It is a good idea to write out a list of all of your important belongings so that you do not forget any. If the judge allows you to pick up your belongings, and you forget certain items, that judge may not let you return to get the items you forgot.
Often times the petitioner is awarded full custody of any children that they have in common with the respondent. It is typically a temporary measure that is only in effect until the issue of child custody is taken up by a domestic relations court. It can be very tempting for a respondent to try to contact children, or even try to take custody of them. That sort of behavior can lead to very bad consequences. Contacting the children could be found by a court to be a violation of the injunction. Attempting to take custody of the children could result in being charged with very serious crimes, such as kidnapping. It is imperative to resist the urge to take matters into your own hand, and let your lawyer work out child custody issues in court.
If you have a domestic violence injunction served on you, your first course of action should be immediately vacating any residence listed on the injunction. Your second course of action should be to contact an attorney to represent you. Injunctions can be devastating to an individual if they are not properly advised on how to conduct themselves. Having the advice of a competent attorney can be the difference between getting an injunction dismissed, or violating the injunction and ending up in jail.