Criminal Issues of Concern during Dissolution/Domestic Cases

An area often overlooked when a person is involved with a case involving Domestic Relations, is the area of criminal law. Men are very vulnerable to cases which may possibly bring law enforcement involvement. The classic areas are Orders of Protection and Criminal Non-Support.

Though not filed in every case, Orders of Protection are utilized by parties to “evict” their spouse form the marital residence. A by product of this tool is to gain leverage with possessing the residence and possibly seizing custody of the children and establishing child support prior to the filing of dissolution/separation action. The criminal element is invoked when the Respondent to these actions “violate” the terms of the Court Order. Such violations can occur by simple communicating with the opposing party to the actual physical contact with the opposing party.  Criminal charges can be instituted by a prosecutor in such cases and can adversely affect an individual’s pending domestic case.

In Criminal Non-Support cases, individuals are charged for no paying support for either a period of time (i.e. In Missouri 6 out of 12 Months) or for not paying a certain total dollar amount of past due support (i.e. $5,000.00). Charges can be considered felonies and may lead to possible incarceration. A vast majority of these cases conclude with individuals receiving probation. The prosecutor has no incentive to incarcerate individuals in their initial contact with the “system”, as it would obviously prevent any child support from being paid. While there may be probation, there is neither a reduction in child support nor a forgiveness of past due support. A condition of probation is to pay a portion of the past due support each month in addition to the current support amount. A continued violation of these terms can lead to incarceration.

The concern for any individual in these situations (and others like actual criminal charges and sexual allegations involving an individual’s own children), is the exposure to criminal charges being filed. At the early stages of a situation, an individual will be informed that there is an “issue” at hand. Immediately, and understandably, concern and stress rushes through one’s mind and body. One must take time to relax and fully comprehend what is at hand. An over reaction at this point can be damaging and unmanageable in the future.

In conclusion, take these issues seriously and always consult an attorney. Often individuals act on their own to their detriment. Consulting an attorney is never a mistake.

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