Navigating a Divorce When Criminal Charges Are Involved

On March 23, 2020

Defending Yourself and Your Rights In Two Places At Once

Divorce is always hard, but divorce when criminal charges are involved can be overwhelming. If one spouse lets their emotions overtake them during the process, crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse, and harassment often follow. But so too can false allegations involving such acts, made by a spouse out of spite or to get a perceived upper hand.

Divorce when criminal charges are involved is like fighting two wars at once. What happens on one front will impact what happens in the other. Spouses whose divorce proceedings stand side-by-side with criminal charges must be mindful when navigating both cases.

Domestic Violence Accusations Come With Fast and Hard Consequences

Divorce or no divorce, police, prosecutors, and judges in Colorado take allegations of domestic violence very seriously. So does Colorado law, which provides for swift and harsh limitations on the accused’s rights, including the immediate entry of a restraining order.

Such an order can dramatically limit your rights, your relationships, and your day-to-day life. A protection order may prohibit you from seeing or communicating with your spouse. It can stop you from seeing your children or put limitations on how, when, and where you spend time with them. It can kick you out of your house and limit your rights in many other ways.

Additionally, violating a restraining order can expose you to new charges and penalties beyond those that you already face, including jail time. Just as important are allegations of domestic violence, harassment, or child abuse that can negatively affect your rights in your divorce case and threaten your relationship with your children.

You may have done nothing wrong. Your spouse may have fabricated the allegations out of spite or to get the upper hand in your child custody and/or divorce battle.

It doesn’t matter. You will be up against the full power of Colorado’s criminal justice system. In many ways, the law presumes that people accused of domestic violence and related crimes are guilty. That is why it is so critical to fight a restraining order and prepare an aggressive defense during a divorce when criminal charges are pending. You don’t want an unwarranted protective order or false accusations to distort the perspective of the judge in your divorce case.

Fighting a Restraining Order During a Divorce When Criminal Charges Are Pending

If Colorado police charge and arrest you for domestic assault, the court will automatically issue a 72-hour restraining order against you.  The restraining order will prevent you from coming within a certain distance of your spouse or children.

Even without an arrest, your spouse can seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) against you without providing you with any notice. Making matters worse, if the judge concludes that there is enough justification for granting the request, he or she may enter the order without giving you any chance to fight the allegations – at least in the near term.

A TRO usually expires within 14 days in Colorado. Before it does, you will have a chance to fight the order at a hearing before an El Paso County or other local judges. At that time, your criminal defense and divorce attorney will present evidence, testimony, and arguments as to why ongoing limitations on your rights are unjustified and why the court should reject your spouse’s request.

When you fight a restraining order during a divorce when criminal charges are pending, a positive outcome at this hearing is critical. An experienced and skilled family and criminal defense lawyer can tell your side of the story, attack false allegations, and protect your rights and relationships in the face of a spouse and a system determined to take them away from you.

Fighting False Allegations of a Criminal Crime

Unfortunately, when a marriage deteriorates and divorce is imminent or pending, a spouse can try to wrongfully use false allegations of domestic violence, harassment, or child abuse as weapons.

False accusations often form the basis for the entry of a restraining order and criminal charges during a divorce. Such accusations can be the product anger, resentment, or a desire to hurt the other spouse. Often, a spouse may see such bogus allegations as a way to get the upper hand in the divorce or gain leverage in disputes over child custody and visitation.

You need more than just your word to defend yourself against false charges during your divorce. You need to gather as much evidence as you can so your lawyer can forcefully counter your spouse’s claims about what you allegedly said or did.

Keep Your Emotions Under Control During a Divorce When Criminal Charges Are Pending

Efforts to fight criminal charges or restraining order during a divorce involve intense feelings. Any time you appear in either family court or criminal court, keep your emotions in check, no matter how upset you are or how strongly you feel. The judge will be paying close attention to how you act, so don’t do anything that would make him or her think that you are prone to anger or irrational outbursts.

Be Careful and Retain Experienced Divorce and Criminal Defense Counsel

Your divorce case and the criminal case may be two separate matters, but you must handle each one strategically and carefully during a divorce when criminal charges are pending.

You need a lawyer in your corner who can address the separate but intertwined issues involved in both proceedings. An experienced divorce and criminal defense attorney can be your best shield – and best weapon – as you fight criminal charges during your divorce.

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