Tonight's post was written by our Atlanta Divorce and Domestic Violence
Attorney, Dina Khismatulina.
According to the Center for Disease Control's statistics, on average
20 people per minute are
victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Twenty people per minute!
Further, according to the American Psychological Association, on average
three or more women are murdered in the United States every single day
by their boyfriends or husbands.
Filing for divorce isn't the automatic answer. Filing for divorce often
only escalates violence. Per the Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review,
divorce actions were pending in 16% of the homicide cases in Georgia in
2013. Furthermore, domestic violence does not end immediately with separation.
Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases were injured
after they separated from their abusers.
A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a unique tool that was designed to
help domestic violence victims get immediate relief. Under O.C.G.A. Â§
19-13-1, "family violence" means the occurrence of one or more
of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are
parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren,
foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly
living in the same household:
1. Any felony; or
2. Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault,
stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.
Thus, O.C.G.A. Â§ 19-13-1 is not limited only to spouses and
not limited only to injuries to people.
Despite the common misconception, divorce and TPOs are two completely separate
actions. You can file a TPO against your spouse without filing for a divorce
and vice verse.
A TPO is unique because the relief could be ordered even without the respondent's
presence in court (ex-parte). When the petitioner files a verified petition
which alleges specific facts to establish that family violence has occurred
in the past and may occur in the future, the court may order such temporary
relief as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner or a minor of the
household from violence (O.C.G.A. Â§ 19-13-1). The abuser/respondent
isn't even present.
Usually, the court will hold a formal hearing within 10 to 30 days when
both parties are present and the petitioner must prove the allegations
of the petition.
The Superior Court of the county where the respondent resides will normally
have jurisdiction over such proceeding, with certain exceptions (O.C.G.A.
Â§ 19-13-2). TPO forms differ from county to county in Georgia,
so it is very important to have an experienced attorney help you file
for a TPO in order not to omit any vital information. For example, not
all counties have provisions that require the respondent to surrender
existing firearms and ban purchasing new firearms. Strange, considering
that firearms were the means of death in 76% of all recorded domestic
violence abuse fatalities according to the Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality
This is all very depressing, I know. But a practicing attorney who specializes
in family law can help you not only to stay safe, but to resolve some
urgent economic issues via TPO, for example, temporary child support,
housing situation, and attorney's fees. It is imporant to know the
risks because only then can you plan for them and avoid them.
Your life and lives of your children are too important - do not take chances
by filing for a TPO without fully understanding its conditions and consequences.
There is definitely a brighter future. Just take the sure path.