Westborough Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic abuse is a tragic reality that impacts many families, regardless of age, sex, or income. State law offers various protections to aid and safeguard those who are experiencing abuse in their home. Our compassionate Westborough domestic violence lawyers can help you exert your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect your family.
Because law enforcement takes allegations of household abuse very seriously, if your current partner or ex-spouse is accusing you of domestic violence, you should speak with O’Connor Family Law immediately. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our team is ready to help you through any situation you may be facing and provide constant support during your case.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence refers to a physical act of violence or a threat of such act that someone perpetrates upon a member of their family or against someone they are or were in a relationship with. Acts of domestic violence can take a variety of forms, it can be actual hitting, strangulation, cornering someone in a room, throwing or breaking household objects, harming a pet, or a number of other physically aggressive acts. It could also be threatening to harm the person. If there is sexual abuse of any kind, that also falls under the domestic violence category.
Domestic violence often involves certain aggressive or toxic behaviors that manipulate someone and make them feel trapped in their abusive situation. Sometimes, someone may not even realize that they are living in an abusive environment. There is a common belief that rape cannot happen within a marriage, but if either partner is forcing or coercing the other person to have sex, then that is non-consensual sex, which is considered sexual abuse.
Common indications of abusive behavior include severe jealousy, attempts to separate someone from their friends and loved ones, unwanted sexual interactions, stalking, becoming extremely angry, destroying property, and continuously demeaning a person. An abusive personality may inflict physical or verbal harm on their family member, then try to lay guilt on this person rather than take responsibility for their own wrongdoing.
The abuser may place someone in fear of their physical and/or financial safety to keep them from leaving a household violence situation. Sometimes, the offender continues to perpetrate acts of domestic violence but says they are sorry afterward and does things to make the abused person feel they can trust them again, triggering a damaging cycle of abuse. Because there are many ways in which domestic violence may occur, it is important to speak with a Westborough attorney who can build your case or make arguments against these allegations.
Cases of Household Violence and Restraining Orders in Westborough
You may have the option to file a restraining order against anyone in your family if you are experiencing household abuse. This may include your current or former spouse, a romantic partner, the person with whom you share a child, or a member of your family by marriage or blood.
A judge can issue a protection order that forbids the respondent from engaging a range of activities. Restraining orders commonly bar offenders from having any communication with the petitioner or entering the vicinity of the family home. A restraining order also may instruct the respondent to relinquish any firearms in their possession.
A court may issue a temporary restraining order for up ten days solely at the request of the plaintiff without the defendant being present. The court must hold a hearing to allow the defendant to be present within ten days of the initial restraining order being granted if it was obtained without the defendant there. If the defendant was properly served but does not appear at this hearing, the judge may simply extend the order for up to a year. If the defendant goes to the hearing, they can argue why the restraining order should not be extended against them. After a hearing, the judge will make the decision whether to extend it or deny it. Our attorneys can assist someone with petitioning the court for a restraining order or defending against the allegations made within the request for the restraining order.
Unfortunately, we often see situations where a spiteful ex-spouse or partner tries to pursue a restraining order against someone as means to impact their credibility in other family law matters, such as child custody cases, or to ensure that they remain in the home with the children. Our skilled Westborough lawyers can help someone contest allegations of domestic violence and restraining orders issued against them.
What Happens After Service of the Restraining Order?
Once the plaintiff obtains a restraining order against someone, that person will need to be served. This usually happens by the local police department where the defendant lives. If the defendant lives with his/her partner, the defendant will be made to leave the home at the time that the restraining order is served. The defendant will only have about 5-15 minutes to gather some temporary belongings and will generally not be allowed back in the home until after the 10-day hearing takes place. If you think your partner could get a restraining order against you, it is wise to have an emergency bag packed with items you would likely need for approximately 30 days in case you cannot get back into the home quickly even after the 10-day hearing.
If the defendant has been properly served and then violates the restrictions laid out within the restraining order, the defendant can face criminal charges and potentially jail time. Even if you have been wrongly accused, if you get served with a restraining order, it is not a joke and you must abide by it.
What About Our Children?
If the plaintiff includes a request for the children to be included on the restraining order and it is granted, the plaintiff will generally be granted immediate sole legal and physical custody of the children. The defendant may not be able to see or even communicate with the children or send messages to the children through anyone else. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of having a restraining order filed against you, especially if the allegations are contrived or exaggerated. Often the district court will not issue detailed orders about parenting time, so the defendant usually needs to immediately file in family court to try to get parenting time back.
There does not necessarily need to be physical harm that the children have experienced by the defendant in order to include the children on the restraining order. If the judge finds that there has been physical abuse or a threat of physical abuse against the plaintiff, then that could be enough to allow that parent to include the children on the restraining order.
Because of this, it is incredibly important to obtain a lawyer who understands the ins and outs of restraining orders and custody in both district and family court, as there usually needs to be litigation that takes place in both courts when restraining orders involve children.
Call Our Westborough Domestic Violence Attorneys Today
Whether you are experiencing household violence or facing false accusations, domestic abuse has the potential to cause extreme strife in a family. When mixed with a family law matter, the case is almost always going to be much more highly contested. If you are in either of these situations, you should speak with an attorney at O’Connor Family Law who can help you determine the best next steps and defend your legal rights. Our Westborough domestic violence lawyers can safeguard your future and family.