An argument with a spouse or romantic partner may end up with you being accused of domestic violence. But, does it matter which court hears the accusations against you? Absolutely. Here’s what you need to know.
Domestic violence can be either a civil or a criminal matter
If your partner went to the family court on their own and made allegations that you are violent and a threat to their safety, the family court can issue a restraining order (also known as a “protective order”) that bars you from contacting them or harassing and threatening them in any way. You may also be excluded from the family home and barred from visiting your children at the same time.
It’s important to understand that the court doesn’t have to wait to hear your side of the story to issue a temporary order – and the judge generally will err on the side of caution to protect the alleged victim. You will eventually get your day in court, which is when you’ll have a chance to dispute the allegations.
That’s bad enough, but it’s actually much worse if you’re charged with domestic violence as a criminal matter. Generally speaking, this is more likely to happen if the police are called to the scene of the dispute and there’s credible evidence that you used force against your spouse or inflicted some injury upon them.
If that happens, you can end up dealing with the issue in both criminal court and family court, and that means double the trouble – and the consequences.
Domestic violence allegations are a complicated area of the law, so you shouldn’t attempt to handle this situation on your own. Experienced legal guidance is key to navigating the legal situation no matter where the allegations against you are heard.