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Domestic violence and family law matters: it's complicated

When allegations of abuse surface during a divorce proceeding, those allegations can play a role in the outcome of custody or visitation agreements. Accusations of domestic violence can make the situation more complex.

In some situations, domestic violence can escalate and even end in the death of one or both intimate partners. In those situations, the children who are left behind are affected the most, having lost one parent or both parents forever.

Recent statistics in Central Florida indicates a rise in the number of deaths by partner violence. In one county alone it was discovered that, of 52 reported homicides last year, one quarter were domestic-violence murders, claiming at least one partner's life and sometimes even the life of the abuser.

The issue raised in the article is whether there are ways to identify domestic violence cases that could potentially result in death. In some abusive relationships, one partner will file for a restraining order against the other. Even when a relationship ends, such as in a divorce or a break-up, domestic violence can still occur.

Based on a Johns Hopkins University study, some police agencies are using a lethality survey. These surveys are designed to reveal whether existing intimate violence will turn deadly. The hope is that individuals in abusive relationships can take the steps necessary to prevent serious harm or death in the future, whether that be in the form of a restraining order or informing authorities.

For a parent, being served a restraining order and facing accusations of domestic violence towards a child can be devastating. Even if the allegations are proven untrue, a parent may lose custody of their child indefinitely. When these types of issues arise, it is important to understand the impact that allegations can have on a family.

Source: Orlando Sentinel: "Domestic violence: When might it turn deadly?" Bianca Prieto, April 8, 2011

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