Divorce Lawyer, Cordell & Cordell
I recently came across a situation where an argument between a divorcing couple over child custody agreements turned ugly and the husband pushed his wife.
Through the course of a nearly 20-year marriage, this man had never hit, abused or even threatened those actions to his wife or his children in any way. He said his emotions simply got the best of him, he had no idea where the aggression came from, and he knew it was wrong the moment he touched her.
It was not a violent push; there were no bruises or marks or injuries. But by pushing her, it is likely that a court will find he committed an act of family violence.
So how does he deal with this situation, and how does the threat of having a temporary protection order issued against him affect his pending divorce case?
Where I practice (in Georgia), the term “family violence” means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses: (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.
In the described situation, pushing his wife qualifies at least as simple battery. In Georgia, a person commits the offense of simple battery when he or she either: (1) Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or (2) Intentionally causes physical harm to another.
If a temporary protection order (TPO) is granted, here are some of the restrictions and obligations that could come with a TPO:
1. Grant possession of the marital residence to your wife and exclude you from the residence;
2. Require that you provide suitable alternate housing for your spouse and the children;
3. Award temporary custody of the children to your wife and establish temporary visitation rights;
4. Order you to make payments for the support of the minor children as required by law;
5. Order you to make payments for the support of your spouse as required by law; or
6. Order that you receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
In my state, the TPO would expire after a period of 12 months. However, your wife could petition the court to extend it for a period of 3 years, and under extreme circumstances, the court has the authority to make the TPO a permanent order.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent your wife from petitioning the court for a TPO.
However, prior to waiting until your wife serves you with a Petition for a TPO, I strongly advise that you get legal advice on divorce from an attorney to discuss in greater detail the facts or your case, and how you can better position yourself in response to your wife’s threats.