Worcester Domestic Violence Attorneys
Serving Clients throughout Worcester, Westborough, & Hanover, MA
Domestic abuse tragically impacts many families, regardless of age, sex, or income. Massachusetts law provides various protections to aid and safeguard those who have experienced violence or abuse in their home. At O’Connor Family Law, our legal team can help you exert your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect you and your family. Alternatively, because law enforcement takes allegations of this nature very seriously, if your current partner or ex-spouse has accused you of domestic violence, you should speak with one of our Worcester domestic violence lawyers immediately. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law practice, our team can help you through any situation you face and provide constant support throughout all phases of your case.
Domestic Violence in Massachusetts
The term “domestic violence” refers to any actual physical act of violence or threat of violence that puts the victim in fear of imminent harm.
It is referred to as “domestic” because it is committed against the following:
- A current or former spouse
- A current or former romantic partner
- Someone with whom you share a child
- A member of your family by marriage or by blood
Domestic violence commonly involves aggressive or toxic behavior meant to manipulate and trap the victim in the abusive situation. The victim may not even realize that the environment is abusive. For example, it is commonly believed that rape cannot occur in marriage but if a partner forces or coerces the other party to have sex, that is non-consensual which can be considered sexual abuse.
Domestic violence can take many forms including but not limited to:
- Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking
- Cornering the victim in a room
- Throwing or breaking household objects
- Harming a pet
- Any type of sexual abuse
Common indications of abusive behavior can include severe jealousy, attempts to separate the victim from friends and loved ones, unwanted sexual interactions, stalking, extreme anger, the destruction of property, and continuous demeaning of the victim. The abusive personality may inflict physical or verbal harm on the victim and then try to make her or him guilty rather than take responsibility for the wrongdoing.
Abusers may also place victims in fear of their physical and/or financial safety to keep them from leaving the situation. Offenders may continue to engage in violent behavior followed by acts of remorse designed to re-enlist the victim’s trust leading to a damaging cycle of abuse. Because of the many ways that domestic violence can occur, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can prepare and build your case or who can create compelling arguments against allegations.
Domestic violence cases often result in restraining orders against the abuser. These orders commonly forbid abusers from engaging in a range of activities, such as barring them from having any type of communication with the victim or entering the vicinity of the family home. These orders may also order abusers to relinquish any firearms in their possession.
Temporary restraining orders can be ordered by a court for up to 10 days solely at the request of the alleged victim without the defendant being present. A hearing must then be held to allow the defendant to present a defense and argue as to why the restraining order should not be extended. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether to extend or deny it. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the judge can extend the restraining order for up to a year.
In some cases, spiteful individuals may try to pursue a restraining order against the other party so as to discredit them in other family law matters such as child custody cases or to ensure that they remain in the home with the children. At O’Connor Family Law, we can assist you in any situation regarding restraining orders, whether you are petitioning for or defending against one and have been wrongly accused.
It is also important to know that if you have been served a restraining order, you must not violate its terms or you could face criminal charges and potential jail time.
The Issue of Children in a Restraining Order
If the request for a restraining order includes children, the party requesting the order will generally be granted immediate sole legal and physical child custody. This may occur whether or not children have allegedly harmed by the defendant or not. Physical abuse or threat of abuse against the alleged parental victim seeking the order can be enough for a judge to grant an order that includes children.
As a result, if you are the defendant, you will be prohibited from seeing or communicating or even sending messages to your children through a third party. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of having a restraining order filed against you, especially if the allegations have been contrived or exaggerated. Because of this, it is imperative that you retain the services of one of our legal team. We understand all aspects of restraining orders and custody issues in both district and family court. Litigation may need to take place in both courts when restraining orders involve children.
Call Us Today
Domestic abuse has the potential to cause extreme strife in your family regardless of whether you have experienced it yourself or are facing false accusations. When this issue involves a divorce or other family law matter, your case will likely become even more highly contested. In such situations, you need a highly-experienced attorney who can help you determine the best strategy and who can defend your legal rights. Our firm has the qualifications and dedication needed to help you put the best foot forward at this critical time.
My representation was far more superior than my ex-husbands.- Vicki
Thank you, Heather!- Jim
Attorney O’Connor is a professional and compassionate attorney.- James
I would definitely recommend her.- Raymond
Heather is brilliant.- Former Client