Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence in King County

What is Domestic Violence?

Washington law (RCW 26.50.010) defines domestic violence as “Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members”.  Put another way, domestic violence is the actual act of hitting, pushing, or otherwise touching someone you know in a harmful way. 

It is also the “infliction of fear” that you will harm another.  For example, suppose a husband constantly tells his wife that he will hit her if she does not do as he says.  If she reasonably believes that he will actually hit her unless she complies with his demands, that is also considered domestic violence.   It is domestic violence because even though he did not actually hit her, he threatened to hit her and the wife became fearful that he actually would. 

It’s important to know that domestic violence isn’t only physical, it can be emotional or sexual in nature. Destroying property, injuring pets or stalking are also categorized as domestic violence. According to some experts, domestic violence occurs in about one out of every three relationships. 

In the context of divorce, we generally see two types of domestic violence.  One, there is domestic violence as a cause of divorce.  In these cases, victims, usually women, institute a domestic violence petition concurrently with a divorce petition.  Two, we see domestic violence as a result of divorce.  In these later cases, we see claims of domestic violence after someone has said they will get a divorce or after they actually file. 

This second category is more rare than the first and more difficult to prove.  We understand that living in fear of a spouse is a tremendous source of stress for you and your children.   If you’re experiencing any of these actions, contact The Seattle Family Law Group today, we’ll need to work fast to provide you with the most effective legal action available.

Understanding Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (“DVPO”) prohibit the defendant from having any contact with the victim.  In King, Snohomish, and Pierce County cases, a DVPO usually also prohibits the defendant from having any contact with his or her children too.  In this sense, domestic violence protection orders are routinely used as a back door way to modify a parenting plan.  In fact, it is also not uncommon to see domestic violence petitions used as a proxy in a custody fight in order to gain a strategic upper hand. 

In these kind of cases, we have routinely defended people accused of domestic violence. In other to obtain a domestic violence protection order, a person must appear in court and explain to a judge why they feel that they are a victim of domestic violence.  Usually, a judge will sign an order temporarily granting the protection order.  At this point, a DVPO is usually served to the abuser by a police officer. The temporary protection order establishes a hearing two weeks later so the abuser may appear in court to argue his or her case. If this is not done, the order will probably become permanent.

A protection order not only offers protection, it often also forces the defendant to comply with family obligations including payment of child support and medical insurance. This order can also prohibit the abuser from spending any time with the children.  It usually also prohibits defendants from taking the child or children out of state.

If this should happen, the abuser will be tracked down and arrested, and the children will be returned to the spouse.Because protection orders are enforceable between different states, the The Seattle Family Law Group can move quickly to have the protection order enforced, and the guilty party brought to justice.  For example, in one case we successfully used a writ of habeas corpus to force the mother to return the child to the father who was residing in another state.

Domestic Violence Lawyer in Seattle

The The Seattle Family Law Group takes domestic violence very seriously, and we protect our clients by having the court issue an order of protection or restraining order. This order prohibits the defendant from approaching the client’s home or frequenting the same areas as the client.  In the event the abuser violates the order, the police can legally arrest him or her and place that person in jail.

The Seattle Family Law Group wants you and your children to feel protected. Contact us today, we’ll keep you safe.