No one should be subjected to abuse, whether physical or emotional. That’s why if you find yourself in an abusive relationship then you should consider whether taking legal action to protect yourself is necessary. We know that initiating formal action like that can be scary, and you may fear retaliation. However, the law provides very real protection to those who seek the appropriate order. Before you can obtain that protection, though, you need to understand the process.
How does the law define abuse?
Your first step is to consider whether you have, in fact, been subjected to abuse. Under Delaware law, abuse can occur in a number of ways. For example, causing or attempting to cause physical harm certainly constitutes abuse, but so, too, does intentionally placing another individual in a situation where he or she has a reasonable fear of physical harm. Intentionally damaging property, trespassing when excluded by court order, child abuse, and even interference with child custody can be considered abuse. So with regard to this aspect of your case, be sure that you can articulate how you have been abused.
Who can an order be obtained against?
It’s important to note that a protection from abuse order can’t be obtained against anyone. Generally speaking, you can only seek one of these orders against a family member, a member of your household, or someone with whom you’ve been in a dating relationship. This means that the law covers a lot of relationships, but not all.
Obtaining an ex parte order
If you believe that you’re in imminent danger, then you can either file in person or via email an affidavit and a request for an emergency order of protection. A hearing will then be held the same day or the next morning at the latest. If the court finds that you’re in immediate danger, then an ex parte order will be granted and the matter will be set for another hearing.
Can you obtain a consent order?
Prior to that next hearing, the court will ask that you and your abuser meet virtually with a court mediator to see if you can agree on what contact should look like moving forward. It there’s agreement, then the parties will go back before the judge and an appropriate order will be entered. If there is not agreement, then the matter will be set for trial.
Litigating your protection from abuse motion
If there’s no consent and your matter gets set for trial, then you’ll need to be prepared to present evidence that shows that your safety is in danger. This might mean taking witness testimony, admitting photographs and audio recordings, and knowing how to tell your side of the story in a persuasive fashion. If the court agrees with your account, then the order for protection will be granted and could last up to two years or more.
Aggressively advocate for the protection that you need and deserve
It can be scary going up against your abuser, but you’ll have to stand up to him or her if you hope to receive the protection that you deserve, including prohibiting contact, modifying child custody, and even giving exclusive possession of the home. But you don’t have to go toe-to-toe with your abuser on your own. Instead, you can find the zealous advocacy that is oftentimes necessary to succeed on these matters from a legal professional who is experienced in this area of the law.
These are serious matters; so don’t wait until it’s too late to seek the protection that you need. After all, only you can take matters into your own hands to achieve the outcome you desire.