Abuse of Abuse

One of the problems family courts regularly  confront is lawyers and litigants who improperly use domestic violence proceedings as expedited ways to either procure custody or block visitation. Instead of filing appropriate pleadings (where full discovery and preparation are allowed), certain people choose the more expedient option to seek immediate relief under the pretense of a claim of abuse.

Here is the problem. First, the system gets overloaded with claims and that detracts it from being able to effectively address  legitimate claims of abuse.  Next, courts understandably are reluctant to ignore serious claims, even if  they simply are based upon unsupported testimony.  Manipulative people exploit this fact to achieve their goals. It then takes many months, if not years to unwind the matter and the truth may never be ascertained. During the process, people run out of money or the will to soldier on, and the perpetrator of the false claim is rewarded with their desired result.

And regrettably there is no solution. The system cannot impede people’s access to a domestic violence proceeding because some improperly use the proceeding for their nefarious ends. However, courts should monitor lawyers who regularly bring domestic violence proceedings as companions to new case filings.  Perhaps those lawyers should be scrutinized a bit more closely than others who file claims that more in line with societal averages.  Shame on them!

Even well intended lawyers get caught up in client’s oftentimes hysterical claims. We must probe and determine whether the claims are real, imagined, exaggerated or pure fiction. We must, like courts, err on the side of safety but we must also try to discern the circumstances before reflexively responding with a quick trip to the courthouse.

Lex finds it absolutely despicable when people exploit the system’s well intended efforts to protect victims of domestic violence.  The abuse of abuse proceedings are real and regrettably irresolvable.


1 Comment

Filed under abuse, domestic violence, Uncategorized

One response to “Abuse of Abuse

  1. Paul Nunes

    Real reform needs to come from inside the courthouse Lex. I know it’s a tall order but Judges need the tools and IT support to make informed decisions based on more than the two paragraphs that are often placed in front of them. A perfect example is represented spouses getting near simultaneous Orders of Protection against each other, both naming kids and property. Now that should NEVER happen.
    I understand your frustration but from a client’s perspective, this is a highly emotional process, driven by people in desperation mode who feel they have nowhere to turn.
    A petitioner who is represented in a divorce proceeding should be required to have their attorney present or at least pre-approve the OOP. I know this wouldn’t solve all the abuse but it’s a start.

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