Domestic Abuse and Divorce in Minnesota

Victims of domestic violence have many difficulties on their plate at any given time:  dealing with the physical effects of abuse, seeking help with mental trauma, and finding a positive care situation for children.  Going through a divorce can often exacerbate these issues.  Emotions run high in almost any divorce process, and the increase in tension can make a bad situation worse.  If you are a victim of domestic violence and are considering a divorce, or are already started on the divorce process, here are some things you should keep in mind that can be used to help.

Orders for Protection

If you already have a lawyer helping you with your divorce, talk to him or her about the possibility of getting an order for protection while your divorce case is ongoing.  An order for protection is the Minnesota term for what you might have heard of as a restraining order.  The order can, in some cases, be entered “ex parte,” which means your partner won’t be in court when the order is granted and won’t have a chance to present his or her own evidence (at that hearing).  An ex parte order for protection can be fairly wide-ranging; it can protect both you and your children from abuse, and it can require the abuser to stay away from designated areas such as your workplace.

If the judge finds that an ex parte order is unwarranted, you can still have a court hearing at which you and your future ex-spouse can both present evidence, and an order for protection can be entered after that hearing if the judge agrees that one is necessary.

In Minnesota, even if you are awarded an ex parte order, your spouse has the right to a hearing, to present his or her side of the case. So remember, if you can’t handle going to court and testifying (it can be frighting) think long and hard about if you want to file for an Order For Protection.

If your partner is charged with a crime relating to the abuse, for example for violating an order for protection or for assault, then the judge in the criminal case may enter a domestic abuse no-contact order.  Violation of this type of order has serious criminal penalties, so these orders tend to be obeyed.

Harassment Restraining Orders

Are similiar to order for protections except there isn’t a threat of violence, just a continued pattern of harassing behavior.  This can be complex as there is not magic number of calls or texts.  I’ll go more into HRO’s (what we call Harassment Restraining Orders) in a future post.

Effect On Divorce Case

Domestic abuse will also have an impact on your divorce.  For one thing, it could impact which parent is awarded legal custody.  The judge will have to start with the presumption that custody shouldn’t be awarded to the abuser.

If the abuse involved the children, it could also result in a restriction on the abuser’s parenting time.  However, as far as the division of marital property goes, Minnesota courts will divide property without reference to marital misconduct, so incidents of domestic violence are not a good basis for one spouse to argue that they are entitled to a greater share of assets.

Information obtained in may contain knowledgable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-205-9736