Colbert Family Law, LLC concentrates its practice primarily in the area of family law. Unfortunately, many family law cases are complicated by domestic violence considerations. We often deal with issues of domestic violence, either as part of a larger family law case or in the context of a client who needs to seek, or defend against, a civil protective order.
Domestic violence takes many forms. It can be an episode or a pattern of physical abuse, and that is what many people think of when they hear the term. But domestic violence can also include the threat of physical abuse as well as emotional or sexual abuse, controlling the abused partner economically, isolating him or her from support systems, or using threats to children or pets to control the abused partner’s behavior. The common thread is that domestic violence gives an abuser control over a victim through fear and intimidation.
If you have experienced domestic violence and need help, know that you are not alone. We regularly help our clients through the process of obtaining protective orders for their safety.
If you have been accused of domestic violence and need help defending against a civil protective order, Colbert Family Law, LLC can help you navigate the court process.
The existence of domestic violence in a household affects the way Alaska courts look at family law cases such as divorce, custody and visitation. Some family law attorneys prefer not to handle cases that involve domestic violence because of the layer of complexity it adds to a legal matter. We believe that people who are experiencing domestic abuse deserve strong advocacy, not refusals of help. We understand how issues of domestic violence can impact your case, and we don’t shy away from dealing with those complexities. We are available to help you with all aspects of your family law case.
Colbert Family Law, LLC serves clients throughout Alaska, from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley to remote villages. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, or have concerns about a pending or potential case involving domestic abuse, contact Colbert Family Law, LLC online or at (907) 279-5001 to discuss how we can help you.
The Alaska statute that governs custody was amended in 2004 to strengthen the protection of children from domestic violence. Because the change is so new, attorneys and judges are still confused about what exactly the statute means. Two recent Alaska Supreme Court opinions have helped to clarify it, but there are still many unanswered questions.
The statute applies to parents who have a “history of domestic violence.” That is defined to mean one serious incident involving physical injury, or more than one other type of incident. Domestic violence is defined elsewhere in the statutes, and includes things like harassment and stalking as well as actual hitting. It is not necessary that the parent ever have been charged with a crime, or even that a domestic violence restraining order have been granted in the past. If the court finds a parent to have a “history,” the court has to restrict that person to supervised visits until the person completes treatment. A person with a “history” cannot be awarded joint or sole legal or physical custody. There are some circumstances under which the court can allow unsupervised visits or even custody, but it must make certain findings if it does.
This change in the statute really raises the stakes in situations where there has been domestic violence, either in the current relationship, or even in a prior relationship. Sometimes both parents have a “history” of violence, often against each other. In these situations, the court is supposed to pick the less dangerous parent, or even award custody to a nonparent. The change in the statute was designed to acknowledge the research that shows that domestic violence is harmful to children even when it is not directed at the children. It was intended to force courts to give careful consideration of the parents’ histories of domestic violence when custody orders are made.