Williamsburg Family Law Attorney
Family law matters strike at the heart of what is most important to you in your life. When the things that matter most to you are threatened, or when you are going through changes in your family dynamic, it’s critical to get help from experienced legal professionals dedicated to giving you the advice and support you need to protect and defend your rights and strategically meet your goals. This is the level of service you’ll receive from the Williamsburg family law attorneys at Simms Showers LLP. Our dedicated family lawyers are with you at every step giving you personal attention and fighting to get the results you need. Call our office for help with any family law issue in Williamsburg, including:
- Separation/Divorce from bed and board
- Complete/Absolute Divorce (divorce from the bond of matrimony)
- Child Custody Disputes
- Domestic and International Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Division of Marital Property
- Premarital and Post-marital Agreements
- Intra-Family Adoption
- Family/Domestic Assault
- Post-Divorce Modifications
- Enforcement of Domestic Relations Court Orders
What Is Family Violence/Domestic Assault?
Assault and battery against a family or household member is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, and it can also be charged as a Class 6 felony if it is a third such conviction in 20 years. Virginia law defines a family or household member to include the following people:
- A spouse, whether or not residing in the same home as the alleged abuser
- A former spouse, whether residing in the same home or not
- Parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, including step and half relationships, whether residing in the same home or not
- In-laws who are residing in the same home
- A person the alleged abuser has a child in common with
- Someone who currently or formerly cohabited (lived together in a sexual relationship) and the children of either person who resided in the same home with them
Family abuse is also defined in Virginia law. Family abuse includes any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury and that is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member. Family abuse includes stalking, forceful detention, and sexual assault.
Protective Orders in Williamsburg Family Abuse Cases
Cases of family abuse or domestic violence can come to the James City County Circuit Court as a criminal or civil matter. As a criminal matter, an alleged abuser can be arrested without a warrant on probable cause to believe the person committed domestic violence. This charge can be a felony if the person has a previous conviction for assault and battery or malicious wounding against a family or household member. This felony charge is a strike offense for the purpose of Virginia’s three strikes law and should be taken very seriously.
On the civil side, Virginia law allows a domestic violence victim to seek a temporary restraining order, also known as an emergency protective order, to order the alleged abuser to keep away from the victim. The victim can obtain this preliminary protective order without notifying the alleged abuser, who has no right to attend a hearing or even know about the order before it is issued. The alleged abuser does have a right to a hearing before a final protective order can be put in place, but it might take 15 days or six months before this hearing is held. During that time, the protective order can order the alleged abuser to leave the home and have no contact with the alleged victim. This enforceable court order can grant temporary possession of the home and car to the alleged victim and require the abuser to pay support to the victim and also undergo treatment.
Domestic Violence and Divorce
Cruelty, along with reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, is a ground for divorce in Virginia. A party alleging cruelty can obtain an immediate divorce from bed and board (legal separation) or a divorce from the bond of matrimony (absolute divorce) a year after the act of cruelty.
As a fault-based ground for divorce, one party’s domestic violence can be detrimental to them in aspects of the divorce proceeding. For instance, Virginia courts are required to make child custody and visitation decisions in the best interests of the child, and the law gives judges a list of factors to consider in making this determination. One of these factors is any history of family abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, or act violence, force or threat in the last ten years.
Issues of domestic violence sometimes surface in a divorce or child custody case and can have a powerful impact on the proceedings. In some cases, domestic violence has been an ongoing issue that gave rise to the divorce. Other times, an incident of violence or abuse might first come about as the parties are separating or fighting over vital issues such as custody. In some cases, the alleged abuser claims that the accusations are being falsely laid by the other party to gain an advantage in a heated, contested divorce or custody dispute.
Whichever side of the issue you find yourself on, it is imperative that you get advice and representation from an experienced and dedicated legal professional. In Williamsburg, the family law attorneys at Simms Showers LLP are here to counsel you and advocate for you in the James City County courts.
Get Help Now With Your Williamsburg Family Law Needs
For advice and representation on any family law matter in Williamsburg, Virginia, call Simms Showers LLP at 757-280-2382 to schedule a consultation or for immediate assistance.