Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

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Are you a victim of domestic violence (“DV”) or being accused of perpetrating it, maybe even falsely? These are not uncommon issues in family law or criminal matters, whether a divorce or civil protection orders with and without children involved. You need to take action and get information as soon as possible to understand the impact DV can have on your individual situation

Behind closed doors DV impacts the lives of nearly four million wives and children, relatives and friends each year. The statistics are shocking: an estimated 44 million women in the United States are battered each year by their partners, and 1 in 10 men will have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Studies show that violence occurs at least once in two-thirds of all marriages. Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women, and roughly 40% of all physically abused children have also witnessed interspousal physical violence.

Finally, many children who are abused, or who witness abuse of their mothers or fathers, grow up to become abusive themselves or become victims of domestic violence again. And the circle continues.

Colorado has special laws that provide quick and effective relief for domestic violence. These laws specify who can obtain a civil protective order (CPO), the acts they protect, how to obtain them, how long they last, and the punishments for violating these laws.

What is Domestic Violence?

Colorado defines domestic violence as bodily harm or threat of it caused by someone you’ve had an “intimate relationship” with, including:

  1. spouses and ex-spouses
  2. individuals who share a child together
  3. current and former girl/boyfriends
  4. a person you date or have dated

In addition to actual physical harm, domestic violence can also include:

  1. a threat of violence
  2. damage to or threat of damage to personal property, including animals, in an effort to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or seek revenge

“Intimate relationship” means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.

What Can a Civil Protective Order Do for Me?

The general conception about CPOs is that they prohibit an aggressor from contacting a victim of domestic violence.  But CPOs offer other forms of relief for victims than just this.

Other forms of relief include:

  • Prohibiting the aggressor from showing up at the victim’s home, workplace, and or school;
  • Prohibiting the aggressor from showing up at the parties’ children’s school or daycare;
  • Prohibiting the aggressor from contacting children in the care of the victim;
  • Prohibiting the aggressor from threatening the victim’s family or household members;
  • Prohibiting the aggressor from abusing the parties’ animals or pets;
  • Granting the victim possession of the parties’ animals or pets;
  • Granting the victim possession of the parties’ residence;
  • Granting the victim possession of the parties’ car;
  • Requiring the aggressor to pay household bills and insurance;
  • Requiring the aggressor to surrender all firearms, ammunition and gun permits; and
  • Requiring the aggressor to attend a treatment program.

This is not an exhaustive list of relief. A judge may order a combination of these forms or relief, or may add additional ones.

Can I Get Custody of My Children through a Protective Order?

A victim of domestic violence can be awarded temporary custody of the parties’ children through a CPO. This can be particularly helpful when there is danger to a victim and the children.

However, you should not rely on a CPO to obtain permanent custody. Watch the video below to learn more.

Ensure Your Safety

If you feel like you’re a victim of domestic violence, you know you need to do something to protect yourself.  Most importantly, you need to have the courage to make those first steps.

Depending on your situation, those first steps may be to leave the house, file for a CPO, talk with a lawyer, or combination of these.

You need to get yourself to a safe place first, and this includes calling law enforcement to help you. Once you’re somewhere safe, call your local domestic violence center. These centers have lots of resources and people handy to help you out.

You may find that you need to leave the house in order to reach a safe place. And you will probably want to take the children with you to keep them safe as well.

If at all possible, try to meet with a lawyer prior to leaving the home to be sure all of your rights are protected.

Once you’re safe, whether that’s at home or elsewhere, then you can begin the process of filing for a CPO or meeting with a lawyer to help you file.

What About Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence?

If someone has been arrested for domestic violence, watch the video below to learn more about Mandatory Protection Orders.

What Happens if There is a Violation?

If you suspect the aggressor has violated the CPO against him or her, you should first call 911.

Depending on your specific CPO, a violation could be the aggressor showing up at your work, threatening you, calling you, or otherwise contacting you or your children.

Keep in mind a CPO prohibits direct and indirect contact with you. Direct contact is a phone call, text message, or other communication directly to you. Indirect contact is when the aggressor has someone else call you or communicate with you on behalf of the aggressor.

Generally, knowingly violating a valid CPO is a misdemeanor crime. The law provides for more serious violations and for repeated violations to be punishable as felonies.

Also available for violations of a CPO is seeking to hold the aggressor in contempt of the court order.  

More Information

The following pages are useful for those dealing with domestic violence allegations.

For more information on divorce visit the Kalamaya | Goscha Blog.

Kalamaya | Goscha’s DV & Restraining Order Team

Kalamaya | Goscha regularly deals with Colorado family law or criminal cases involving domestic violence. To see our divorce attorneys, click here. To see our criminal defense attorneys, click here.