Domestic violence affects families from all walks of life in Fairfax, Virginia. Most people are unaware of the domestic violence that occurs behind closed doors of friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors. Sadly, abused spouses and other victims feel hopeless and believe there is no way out.
Our Fairfax domestic violence lawyers at The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, can work with you to formulate a plan to get out of an abusive relationship. We provide sound legal advice and compassionate support throughout the process of ending an abusive marriage or relationship. Our Fairfax family lawyers are focused solely on your best interests.
How The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury Can Help if You Need a Legal Advocate Because of Domestic Violence in Fairfax
The attorneys at The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC have extensive experience representing clients suffering from domestic violence. We can help you pursue protective orders and secure divorce settlements that allow you to get a fresh start.
Our lawyers have more than 20 years of experience. We limit our law practice to family law matters. Our founding attorney Afsana Chowdhury has a perfect 10 rating with Justia and Avvo, and she is included in the list of Top 40 Under 40 lawyers by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys.
When you hire The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, you can trust that we will:
- Listen to your situation and discuss how we can help you
- Explain your legal options and the strategies we can use to achieve a positive outcome in your case
- Aggressively represent you in hearings to obtain protective orders
- Fight to obtain terms for your divorce that give you the resources you need as you move forward
- Work with you to negotiate a parenting plan and custody agreement that is in your children’s best interests
- Fiercely fight on your behalf during all settlement meetings, hearings, and at trial
Call us today to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Fairfax, VA. You do not have to fight this battle alone. Put the resources, expertise, and skills of top-rated Fairfax family law attorneys on your side.
Overview of Virginia’s Domestic Violence Laws
Virginia Code §18.2-57.2 makes assault and battery against a family member a Class 1 misdemeanor. The charge can be increased to a Class 6 felony depending on the personal criminal history.
Domestic violence involves two legal elements:
- The victim is a spouse or former spouse, family member, or household member; AND,
- The incident involves intentional touching, acts to cause harm to someone or conduct intended to cause another person to fear they will be harmed.
This definition is important in family law cases. A person can be charged with domestic violence even though they did not touch someone else. Therefore, you can seek protection from emotional abuse if you are being subjected to threats of physical harm.
A family or household member includes:
- Current and former spouses or domestic partners
- Immediate family members, including step-family members
- In-laws that live in the same home
- Individuals who share a child together
- People who have lived together during the past year and any children that resided with them
A person convicted of domestic assault can be fined and incarcerated. However, that is not the only punishment they face. A protective order that impacts the person’s parental rights and other freedoms could be entered as well.
The Types of Protective Orders for Domestic Violence in Fairfax, VA
Domestic violence could be the reason someone decides to end their marriage. Abuse could also begin after the spouse tells their partner they want a divorce.
Regardless of when the abuse began, you can seek a protective order from the court to help ensure your safety and the safety of your children. A protective order aims to stop the abuse by limiting the contact between you and the abuser.
The three types of protective orders issued in Virginia are:
- Emergency Protective Order – A judge may issue an emergency protective order for 72 hours to give the court time to hold a hearing.
- Preliminary Protective Order – You can request a preliminary protective order to be in effect for 15 days or until the final hearing for a protective order. The preliminary protective order can be issued after an ex parte hearing, which means your spouse would not be present at the hearing.
- Permanent Protective Order – The court holds a full hearing where the accused may be present and argue against the proceedings. A permanent protective order can be in effect for up to two years.
Protective orders can prohibit the abuser from having contact with the family or household members named in the order. Judges can also include other terms and conditions in the protective order, such as:
- Order temporary custody
- Prohibit acts of family abuse
- Grant temporary residence of the family home to the victim
- Prohibit contact with family members and children
- Order supervised visitation with children
- Grant temporary possession of the family vehicle to the abused person
- Require the abuser to provide alternative housing for the victim
- Order the abuser to attend therapy and/or family abuse treatment
- Prohibit the abuser from possessing firearms
The victim must prove that there is sufficient justification to issue a protective order. An experienced Fairfax domestic violence lawyer can present your strongest case. Our lawyers understand the evidence necessary to prove domestic violence allegations and the steps to take to obtain the highest level of protection from your abuser available through the courts.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact a Contested Divorce Case in Fairfax, Virginia?
Virginia allows spouses to obtain a divorce on the no-fault grounds of continuous separation. You must be separated for at least six months if you do not have children and have a signed separation agreement or one year if you and your spouse share children.
You can also petition the court for a divorce on the grounds of cruelty. Domestic violence could give you the evidence you need for a divorce based on cruelty. However, your spouse will likely dispute the grounds, causing the action to become contested.
If you petition on the grounds of cruelty, the domestic violence allegations will play a factor in decisions regarding child custody, spousal support, and property division. The extent the domestic violence impacts the divorce terms depends on the severity of the incidents, the strength of the evidence, and the impact the abuse had on the victim and their children.
How Can Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody Cases in Fairfax?
Virginia judges focus on the best interests of the children when making custody decisions. “Best interests” includes the emotional and physical well-being of the child. Therefore, courts take allegations of domestic violence very seriously in child custody cases.
Even though courts prefer to award joint custody to allow parents equal opportunity to be involved in their child’s life, judges will limit or prohibit child custody if a parent is guilty of domestic violence. A parent does not need to be convicted of domestic violence in criminal court for the allegations to impact custody decisions.
A single act of domestic violence could negatively affect a custody decision. The judge may order supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety while spending time with the parent. A history of domestic violence could result in sole physical and legal custody being awarded to the other parent.
Getting Help for Domestic Violence in Fairfax, VA
The most important issue if you are a victim of domestic violence victim is to ensure your and your children’s safety. If necessary, call 911 to request immediate assistance from law enforcement officers. You can apply for a protective order through the courts or with an attorney’s assistance.
Contacting a Fairfax domestic violence lawyer is also another way to protect yourself. An attorney advises you on the steps you should take to prepare for separation and divorce.
Steps that you can take to prepare for court action for domestic violence include:
- Keep a detailed log of all incidents of abuse or violence
- Make copies of text messages, emails, and other correspondence containing threats of abuse or violence
- Obtain copies of medical records evidencing injuries from domestic violence incidents
- Compile a list of eyewitnesses and their contact information for your lawyer
- Make copies of school records or other documents that refer to violent incidents involving your children
- Take pictures of bruises and other injuries
- Make copies of police reports filed against the abuser
- Take pictures of household objects broken and damage caused during violent incidents
Be careful when researching domestic violence resources and divorce options on your cell phone or other electronic device. Some spouses review browsing history and could become more violent if they see that you are researching these topics. If you fear that your spouse might be tracking your electronic footprint, you might want to contact a divorce lawyer from your place of employment or through a trusted family member.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Fairfax Domestic Violence Lawyers
The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury is here to help you make it through this difficult time as best we can. Call now for a case review with one of our experienced Fairfax domestic violence attorneys.
We are not here to pressure you into a decision. Instead, our lawyers focus on your needs and how we can provide meaningful, compassionate, effective legal services.