Restraining Orders and Custody

A restraining order between two parents can impact physical custody, legal custody, and the number of attorneys involved in the case.

The court has an obligation to protect the victim spouse and children from further harm.  Accordingly, the court should not enter an order that would require the parents to interact with each other.  The time-sharing arrangement should provide for safe transitions of children in a monitored location, perhaps at one’s church.

It is difficult for parents to share legal custody when one parent is abusive.  How can two parents make decisions jointly if they cannot interact with each other?  Where there is a history of violence and/or manipulation, the victim spouse should make the court aware that a joint decision-making arrangement is not feasible and is potentially dangerous.

Since custody can become so tricky in domestic violence scenarios, it is useful to ask the court to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate allegations and assess which parent provides the safest environment for the children.  Although Guardians Ad Litem can be expensive, most courts have the ability to appoint a pro bono Guardian Ad Litem for low-income families.  

How Do I Get Divorced if My Spouse is Parts Unknown?

Many people who seek divorce do not know their spouse’s whereabouts, yet they must comply with the requirement to provide notice to their spouse.  How do you serve a spouse in-hand when you have no clue where your spouse resides?  Or if your spouse is even alive?

Answer: You file a Motion for Alternate Service.  In this motion, you inform the court that your spouse is parts unknown.  You explain where you last saw the spouse, and all the efforts you have made to locate the spouse at the present time.  If you demonstrate that you have diligently, and unsuccessfully, attempted to locate your spouse, the court will most likely grant the alternate service and direct you to publish notice in a local newspaper.

With the court’s permission, you then contact the indicated newspaper and ask them to run notice of the divorce proceeding in their publication.  (The cost of publication varies.)  You file the tear sheet of the newspaper notice with the court.  You also file the certified mail return from the summons that you mailed your spouse at the last known address.

The case will then proceed to a hearing, at which point the court may grant the divorce.