It is frightening and difficult to leave a physically, financially or emotionally abusive spouse. Statistically, abused partners are at their highest levels of risk in the two years after ending the relationship. Once you file for divorce, while you may be safer in your immediate surroundings, the statistical risk to you increases.
That doesn't mean you should stay with an abusive partner just to avoid the potential conflict of leaving. Instead, it means you should take steps as soon as possible to start ensuring your safety as you leave this abusive relationship behind and move on to something healthier in your future. Thankfully, the state of Colorado allows those experiencing domestic violence to seek protective orders that will create legal consequences for your ex if they harass you or hurt you.
You can seek temporary protection orders, as well as long-term orders
Issuing a long-term order of protection typically requires in-depth consideration by a judge. Hearings are often necessary, and both you and your ex will have the opportunity to present evidence to the courts. This civil court process can take some time to complete.
However, if you intend to leave a violent partner behind, you should not have to wait for weeks or months for a court hearing to receive legal protections. You can file for a temporary order of protection that takes effect the same day. These orders are typically short-lived, but they offer immediate protection in the days when you file for divorce.
If the courts are not open, a lawyer and law enforcement officials can help a victim seek an emergency protection order. Like a temporary protection order, the person protected by an emergency order will eventually need to present testimony or evidence at a hearing to secure a permanent protection order.
What do protection orders offer for victims of domestic violence?
Protection orders are legal orders issued by the court that prevent the other party from harassing or abusing you. Typically, the judge will set specific restrictions based on the details of your case when you request a protection order.
These orders can include a requirement from the court to leave a shared residence, or limit or prohibit communicating with the protected individual. This can include in-person contact, phone calls, letters and even digital communications. Many times, these orders will create a physical distance that must be maintained between both parties at all times.
If the other person violates a protective order, the victim can contact law enforcement. Law enforcement will help uphold the court order and document the violation. That can eventually lead to criminal consequences for the person who violated the protective order.
Protective orders can do a lot to limit your risk, but they are only pieces of paper. You should also take practical steps to ensure your safety and do your best to build up a support network as you plan to leave an abusive marriage behind.