Domestic violence has been an issue for a long time, but only recently has it implemented legislation that immediately protects the victim. The laws have adapted so that there can be intervention, as quickly as possible, to prevent serious consequences from occurring when there is domestic violence. Anyone who has experienced domestic violence should know the law is on his or her side and there are ways to be protected.
In Delaware, there is a procedure known as a protection from abuse petition (PFA). One party can file a PFA and name the abuser. The abuser is required to come into Family Court and to either consent to an agreement or to go through a proceeding whereby the accuser proves that abuse has taken place. Domestic violence can be physical, mental, or emotional, where there is a constant history of demeaning conduct. Ongoing name-calling, demeaning words, and expressions can be just as harmful to a victim.
The petition can be for a period of a year and it can be up to two years. A PFA can require a perpetrator to vacate the marital residence and order support payments be made while the individual is out of the residence. This includes expenses associated with the marital residence. A motor vehicle can be awarded to the party who stays in the marital home, who is the victim of this type of domestic violence.
Domestic violence can affect custody cases. If there is a custody issue between parents, and one of the parents is a perpetrator of domestic violence, then that affects the custody decision the court would enter in such a case. It can be filed on behalf of the spouse or on behalf of the spouse and the children so that contact with the children can be limited. In fact, you could have a situation where you wouldn’t be allowed to have any visitation or any contact with children, as a result of the protection from abuse order. A PFA can be filed against any family member, including children. It could be against spouses who are in the home.
It can also impact on the potential penalties that can be imposed for what otherwise would be an ordinary criminal case. If there is an assault, and it happens to be a domestic violence assault, you could see a higher penalty. Issues involving domestic violence are often involved in either domestic cases or in criminal cases. The important thing to realize is that it is very much a hot button with both family and criminal courts. Protect yourself and your family. Know the signs of domestic violence, know the laws, and know that Delaware will work to protect you.