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Get a restraining order if you fear domestic violence

If you are going through an especially contentious divorce, sometimes it doesn't take much provocation to tip the scales over to the point of domestic violence.

Domestic abuse, or the threat of it, may even be one of the reasons you are seeking a divorce in the first place. Nobody deserves to be victimized by a spouse or intimate partner.

It can be difficult leaving an abusive partner, especially if their abuse also involves controlling access to money, credit cards and other resources. There are options available to those who want to escape.

Under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, domestic violence is defined as acts of abuse toward a "family or household member" by another member. Abuse does not always have to be a physical assault; it can take the form of all of the following:

-- Physical

-- Economic

-- Sexual

-- Emotional

-- Neglect

If a Massachusetts law enforcement officer answers a call regarding domestic violence, or if he or she has probable cause that acts of domestic violence occurred within four hours prior to the call, the officer must arrest the abuser.

The law also prevents domestic violence victims from refusing to file charges or later dropping them, as the police can make arrests and the prosecutor can try a case without a victim's testimony.

Your family law attorney can set the wheels in motion for you to obtain a restraining order if you fear that your abuser will harm you or your children. Under some circumstances, victims of domestic violence may be able to pursue civil litigation against those who abused them to recover financial and other damages.

Source: Findlaw, "Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws," accessed March 18, 2016

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