I hope this is a question you will never face, but, leaving an abusive partner or family member is not an simple decision, let alone following through with that decision. There are a myriad of variables that go into a such decision, some of which lean toward staying, and some toward leaving. These can include:
- emotions, feelings of love and hate for the person
- sympathy, feelings of forgiveness, the need to give the person ‘another chance’
- financial dependence on the other person
- outside pressures from family and friends who either support or discourage a separation
- children, family, and dependents that we may have with the other person
Relationships are incredibly complex and multi-faceted; not a logical, linear concept. Suppose we had a mathematical formula to help us reach a conclusion about staying in a relationship or leaving? As far as I know there is no such formula, but even if there were, would it make the decision and act of separating, any easier?
Add to this already very heavy and emotionally-draining exercise, the element of domestic violence. Things get very complicated when we have to consider our self-preservation. Physical and emotional safety for ourselves or our children are natural things to consider, but, also add to the gravity of a decision to stay in, or leave, a relationship.
None of this is easy, especially when considering that our domestic partner may not be willing to accommodate our wish to separate, even if we make the decision to separate. Getting to the decision to separate is one thing; getting the separation to actually happen, is another discussion, especially when we have our physical safety or that of our children to consider.
Minnesota law §518B.01 gives Minnesota Courts the ability to grant an Order for Protection in cases where a person in a domestic relationship needs separation and protection against their partner or family member. The reason for this law is to provide a victim of domestic violence, a very quick and efficient way to obtain a separation and protection from an abusive family member.
How is this done? What do I need to show a Court in order to get an Order for Protection? This question is also complicated as, no surprise, there is no mathematical formula to determine whether an Order for Protection can be granted. There is no quantifiable amount of data a Court requires to issue an Order for Protection. Just as people’s behavior can be complex, so must the Courts apply a complex analysis.
In order to grant an Order for Protection, a Court needs to find that an act, or series of acts, have occurred in a family or domestic relationship, where one person has intended to harm another person, or intended to make the other person feel as though s/he will be harmed. This finding can be based on a single incident or a series of incidents ranging over the course of several months, or even years.
Recently, the Court of Appeals reiterated this point when it decided that a lower court properly issued an Order for Protection, even though there was no physical harm committed, but, there were threats or acts of ‘indirect physical aggression’ (punching walls, making gestures) which made the affected family members feel afraid for their safety, because there was a history of past abusive behavior.
When considering whether to apply for an Order for Protection, it is important to remember that a Court should consider both recent acts, and past acts of abusive behavior.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.