Atlanta Restraining & Protective Orders Lawyers
Coming to the decision of filing a divorce, ending a relationship, or seeking help from an abuser, can take years and may feel like a lonely process. However, you should know that you have legal options to protect yourself. If you or a loved one fear the consequences of ending a relationship, or have suffered harm at the hands of a spouse, you should consider restraining and protective orders.
Taking the first step towards protecting yourself may seem monumental, but an attorney can walk you through the entire process and explain your options. At Kessler & Solomiany, LLC our family law attorneys have years of experience helping individuals file restraining and protective orders, and we can assist you with taking the steps necessary to hold your abuser accountable.
Our experienced Atlanta restraining order attorneys will help you communicate with law enforcement and make sure that your safety comes first. Additionally, we will help explain the consequences of any changes that effect your custody agreement and help you determine how moving away from an abuser could impact an ongoing divorce or custody dispute. Contact us at (404) 688-8810 or online today, and let our experienced attorneys help you get the peace of mind and protection that you deserve.
Is what I tell my lawyer private?
When you decide to get a divorce, or file a restraining or protective order, your lawyer becomes your newest confidante; however, not in the way your siblings or best friend from college are confidantes. The relationship your attorney shares with you is “legally privileged.” Simply stated, your attorney owes you certain duties including, among other things, the duty of confidentiality.
Except in limited circumstances (such as criminal behavior where a crime is about to be committed or a child has been abused), your attorney cannot—and will not—disclose the information you give him or her to a third party. This duty of confidentiality even extends into pre-trial and trial disclosure of information obtained in confidence. For example, if the court or an opposing party requests this information, your attorney will decline the request citing the “attorney-client privilege,” an evidentiary privilege that makes information obtained by the attorney in the course of legal representation inadmissible in court, with certain exceptions for things like imminent danger. Ask your lawyer about this.
That being said, you should never lie under any situation. This is a very serious and often a criminal offense. It is usually better to admit (or exercise the right against self incrimination) that you once committed a crime than to lie about it under oath. Your lawyer will not tell you to lie under oath. In addition, although your attorney will maintain his duty of confidentiality, if you tell your lawyer a fact and later deny it under oath your lawyer will likely have to withdraw from the case.
As this section makes clear, attorneys take this duty of confidentiality very seriously and are obligated to maintain the information in confidence. You need to be completely honest with your lawyer and understand that the information you give will not be made public with exceptions mentioned before. But please discuss this with your lawyer and rely on his or her advice.
Can we modify our custody agreement after the trial?
Generally, yes. However, there are some state-specific restrictions. Often parents find it necessary to return to court after their initial trial to revisit the agreement and seek a new arrangement. To make a dramatic change in custody—to transfer the primary place of residence from one parent to the other parent, or from a parent to another relative–—you almost always need a “major” change in circumstances. This change must be based on more than just problems, like the child having bad grades one semester or that Dad was injured in an automobile accident and could not pick up the child at daycare.
You need something significant, like one parent being arrested for driving under the influence or using drugs. Some states, however, allow you to return to court and simply argue that the current arrangement is no longer in the best interests of the children. However, custody is not easily modifiable, therefore, you had better make sure that modification is absolutely necessary before you invest significant time and money into another trial. Of course, if you and your former spouse can agree to change, you can do it informally, or you can formalize it through a new court order.
What happens if my spouse or I want to relocate?
Relocation is one of the most common reasons for a post-divorce change in custody. In California and many other states, for example, there is a law providing that when a parent relocates, it may be necessary to revisit the custody arrangement. Of course, we have a constitutional right to live where we want and our children come with us. However, these constitutional considerations must be balanced with the “best interest of the child” in mind. For example, it may be that the child is happy and successful in his school and a move, solely based on spite, could ruin that situation. In this instance, a judge may not side with the relocating party.
What if one spouse is from a different country and wants to take the children there?
International custody issues can be even more of a nightmare. Custody or visitation issues involving different countries or parents from different countries can often be complex and difficult. If this is an issue in your situation, you should absolutely consult immediately with an attorney familiar with these specific issues.
If you or your spouse is from another country, or if there is some reason to fear that your child will be taken to another country with or without your permission, you should act quickly. An initial suggestion is to secure your child’s passport and put it in a place where your spouse could not possibly obtain it. If your child does not have a passport, obtain one for him or her and then secure the passport. Additionally, you should check out the information on the US State Department’s website at travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html on international custody issues.
Obviously, the most important thing is to exercise common sense if you are fearful that a parent or anyone else is trying to take a child out of the country. Do not let your child leave the country if you can stop it until you have spoken with a lawyer versed in this area. If you have reason to fear that your child will be taken and not returned, immediately seek legal protection, hire a lawyer, and seek an emergency order. But most importantly, do not let the other parent have the child if there is a fear that the child will be taken to another country under threat of not returning the child until you get good legal advice.
In today’s world, children have family in other countries and it is not suggested that children should never be allowed to visit with relatives in other countries. However, if there is a real threat of children being taken and not returned, the best thing you can do is to become knowledgeable about this issue. There are international laws to help retrieve children after they have been taken, such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, especially where there are issues of children possibly being taken out of the country. Not all countries have these laws and many do not apply them as we would like.
At Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, we believe that your safety and well-being is a top priority. Family violence can have devastating consequences on children and the community. Thus, it is important to have an attorney that can fight for your legal rights and has experience representing clients in similar situations. Our skilled attorneys have helped many clients with restraining and protective orders over the years, and we know how to handle complex cases involving past abuse or abduction attempts. Contact us today at (404) 688-8810 or online to learn more about the legal protections available for you and your family.
Restraining Orders/Family Violence FAQs
- My spouse or significant other has pushed me, what can I do?
- What are the laws on “Family Violence”?
- What about “Stalking”?
- What if someone files a false family violence claim against me?
- What happens to the children after a Family Violence case?
My spouse or significant other has pushed me, what can I do?
Unwanted touching is a crime. If someone has touched, pushed or restrained you against your will, you should consider calling the police. Obviously if it was truly harmless such as a tap on the shoulder to get your attention, you should not call the police. But any touching meant to cause harm or intimidate should be reported.
What are the laws on “Family Violence”?
Aside from the criminal process of arrest and trial, there exists a civil process. This process allows you to proceed to court and ask for an immediate restraining order to prevent the other party from coming near you. If the court grants such an order, the other party will be delivered notice of the order together with notice of a court date at which time each side will present their side of the case and the court will decide whether to dismiss the suit or to extend the restraining order beyond the court date. Also, such a restraining order carries other consequences such as impacting the defendant=s ability to carry a firearm.
What about “Stalking”?
Stalking (constantly following, calling or even emailing someone for the purpose of intimidation or harassment) is a crime, but it can also be the basis for the same type of relief sometimes granted in a Family Violence case (see FAQ on Family Violence).
What if someone files a false family violence claim against me?
This does happen. If you are accused of committing an act of family violence, you should hire an attorney and decide the best way to defend yourself in court. If the judge is convinced that you were falsely accused, the judge will dismiss the order and may even assess costs against the plaintiff.
What happens to the children after a Family Violence case?
The court, in a Family Violence proceeding, can also determine issues of custody, visitation and support. Be prepared with a suggestion for the court of what you would like to see happen after the trial.