Defending Against a Domestic Violence Petition

Due to the lasting effects a domestic violence final order can have on a person’s life, obtaining an attorney as soon as possible is extremely important; however, if one cannot be obtained right away, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts from the Law Offices of Bucknam, Black and Brazil on defending yourself from a domestic violence petition.

Don’t violate the temporary order.  In a Vermont  case a number of years ago where a temporary relief from abuse order was issued, the defendant sent the plaintiff a short love note.  The temporary order was dismissed, after a hearing, for lack of evidence, but the defendant was charged and convicted of a violation of the temporary restraining order.  If the order provides for no contact, that is exactly what it means.  The plaintiff can try to contact you, either directly or indirectly,  but you must never respond.  If you violate the temporary order, you not only will be charged with a crime, but, in my experience, you will have a harder time convincing the court that no abuse occurred.

Don’t give the court the impression you think the plaintiff is crazy or just spiteful, or the court system is biased against you.  Family Court judges are conscientious,  are dealing with limited facts, and are trying to protect potential victims.  In my experience, Family Court judges try hard to be unbiased, and for the most part, they succeed.  However, if you are disrespectful to the court or dismissive of the petition or complaint, it will be much harder for the court to rule in your favor.

Don’t just deny the claims;  if the only evidence the court hears is the plaintiff’s claims and your denials, the court will likely grant the petition or complaint,  because the court will lean on the side of protection.

Do ask for a continuance if you need more time to obtain an attorney and get the facts together.  The Vermont statute allows you a continuance if you were unable to obtain an attorney in time for the hearing, and the court will likely allow you a continuance if you can convince the court that you have witnesses that were not available for the hearing, or need more time to prepare   In New Hampshire, a continuance will be granted “for good cause shown”,  but since New Hampshire provides for more time between the temporary order and the final hearing, a continuance in New Hampshire may not be needed.  A continuance means the temporary order remains in place for a longer period of time, but it is worth it.  A temporary order, if it does not become a final order, is confidential, and the records will be eventually destroyed by the court.

Do keep any texts, emails or other communications from the plaintiff. The Relief from Abuse or Domestic violence statutes require the court to find not only that abuse occurred  but that “there is danger of further abuse.” (Vermont’s statute) or the conduct constitutes a “credible present threat to the petitioner’s safety” (New Hampshire statute).   If the plaintiff tries to contact you after obtaining an RFA or DV order, those attempted contacts may be used to persuade the court that the plaintiff  does not believe that there is danger of further abuse or a present threat to his or her safety.   Remember, however, you can never respond to any communications from the plaintiff after you have been served with a temporary order.

Read the entire article by Attorney Deborah Bucknam

If you have been served with a Domestic Violence Petition, or if you need to obtain a protection order, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can help with a referral to an attorney who is specifically experienced with domestic violence petitions.  Call 603-229-0002 or fill out the Lawyer Referral Service online request form.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, contact the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence  or call the 24 hour hotline at 1-866-644-3574

 

Is Divorce Mediation Right For You?

From Alison Patten, licensed attorney and mediator, who blogs at LemonadeDivorce.com.

Here’s what you need to know about mediation:

1. Many divorce cases are suitable for mediation (even when there is ongoing conflict; even when trust is damaged from an affair).

2. Mediation can involve just one mediator and be low-cost, or can involve outside experts (such as an accountant, a financial advisor, and consulting attorneys). You decide what you need and what you can afford.

3. Other than doing your divorce yourself, mediation is often the least expensive and fastest way to get divorced. It is the most “hands-on” and you control the process. Perhaps for this reason, couples rarely have “mediation regret” — even in cases where no agreement was reached.

So your real task, when considering mediation, is to check for any compelling reason NOT to mediate — the “red flags.” If any of these factors exist in your situation, mediation may not be right for you.

Read the full article from the Huffington Post.

List of Certified NH Marital Mediators.

After a successful mediation,  it is a good idea to have an attorney review your mediated agreement before filing it with the court.  The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can help with a referral to a competent attorney who provides unbundled legal services  to review your divorce agreement.  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

25 States Consider Animal Abuse Registries

As reported by Chris Christoff / Bloomberg News:

Those who batter, abuse or kill dogs and cats would get the same public scorn as sex offenders in bills introduced in legislatures throughout the United States.

Online registries for convicted animal abusers already have been approved in three New York counties, including Suffolk, where the nation’s first takes effect Monday. Twenty-five states have considered such laws since 2010, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is leading the campaign.

Backers say the bills recognize a growing awareness of animal rights – and the public-safety benefits of stopping abusers, who studies show often go on to harm humans.

“There’s a mountain of evidence that says we need something like this,” said Michigan State Rep. Harvey Santana, a Detroit Democrat who’s proposed a registry there. “There is a strong correlation between people who abuse animals and graduate to abusing people.”

Read the entire article at the Concord Monitor.

What to do if you witness or suspect animal abuse.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can assist with referrals to attorneys who handle your type of legal matter, or with referrals to other community resources.  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

Self-Help Center for Family Court

The NH Judicial Branch Self Help Center provides basic, practical information about the New Hampshire court system, how it works, and what the procedures are for bringing a case to court.   Find links to forms, fees, court rules, alternatives to court and many other links to useful information for anyone representing themselves in Family Court.  For more information go to:  http://www.courts.state.nh.us/selfhelp/index.htm

The Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to an attorney who may assist you with representing yourself through ”unbundled legal services”, enabling you to hire an attorney to  handle just a portion of your case for a fraction of the cost of full representation.    For more information call 603-229-0002 or fill out the online request form.

Domestic Violence Through the Eyes of a Child Video

“MONSTERS” portrays the alarming impact of domestic violence on families and children, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Studies suggest that between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence each year. The video notes that girls who witness abuse are more likely to be abused later in life, and boys are twice as likely to abuse their own partners — “because that’s the world they know.” MONSTERS is produced and funded by the Verizon Foundation and supported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.”

Read more about and view this short video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=367JvtoTm34&feature=youtu.be

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the NH Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-644-3574

If you need an attorney to assist you with a domestic violence situation, call LRS today for a referral to a competant attorney who has experience handling domestic violence issues.