Be Prepared – Domestic Violence and Divorce

Divorce is never a simple thing. Unfortunately, emotional disputes like divorce bring out the worst in people. When a confrontation with a former spouse is inevitable, it is up to each person to make certain they protect themselves. What many don’t realize is that divorce can often lead to legal entanglements far beyond a simple civil contest over who gets what.

The key to avoiding turning a tough situation into a worse one is to understand the risks and do what is necessary to mitigate them or avoid them altogether. Sometimes divorce leads to involvement by law enforcement. Regardless of the reasons, you need to protect yourself.

Domestic Violence

If you are confronted by the police over a domestic violence charge, whether it was a misunderstanding, an actual physical fight or something in between, keep your mouth shut. Under no circumstances should you make any attempt to explain yourself to the police. Invoke your right to remain silent and do as you’re told. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to defend yourself later.

This advice dovetails with a very basic principle when law enforcement is involved. Let your lawyer to the talking. Answer no questions for any reason. There is literally nothing you can do or say that will help you anyway. You lose nothing by remaining silent.

The Right Attorney

If you are involved in an ongoing divorce, your divorce lawyer likely already has his or her hands full with the civil case. If a criminal charge is at issue, you should ask your attorney for advice on how to hire a second lawyer to help you with the criminal charge.

The reason for this is simple. Criminal defense attorneys are far more experienced in the vagaries of navigating the criminal justice system than even veteran civil attorneys. While the lawyer you chose to represent you in the divorce may be quite competent and even brilliant, they will likely agree you will be better off if you retain a criminal defense attorney as well.

Document Everything

Even if you can’t obtain contemporaneous pictures of any potential injuries, you will do well if you can assemble photographic evidence of the alleged crime scene. Photograph the house from as many angles as possible. Try not to disturb the scene. What you can see here is what you want the court to see as well. Make certain you get a picture with a clock in it if you can. Try to take a picture of a current newspaper as well. This will establish authenticity.

If there is any damage to the home, photograph it. Make certain your photographs are delivered to your attorney as soon as possible. That will trigger privilege and you will have the orderly processes of the court to you instead of a possibly belligerent spouse or police officer’s demands.

Legal disputes are never pleasant. They can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. The very last thing you want is for your dispute to become a nightmare due to a lack of preparation. Be smart and be prepared. In the long run it will definitely be worth it.