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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence manifests itself in various ways. It includes physical battering, intimidation, isolation, emotional persecution, economic abuse, sexual exploitation, using the children against the other spouse, threats and utilizing male privilege. Physical battering includes but is not limited to pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, choking, pulling hair, punching, kicking, grabbing, twisting arms, tripping, biting, beating, throwing one down, and/or using a weapon against someone. Intimidation is putting someone in fear by using looks, actions, gestures, loud voices, smashing things and destroying her property. Isolation is controlling what one does, who she sees and talks to and where she goes.

Emotional persecution is putting one down or making one feel bad about herself, name-calling, maneuvering one into thinking she is crazy, and playing mind games. Economic abuse is trying to keep a person from procuring or maintaining employment. It also includes compelling a spouse to ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, and hiding information concerning the income, assets, and debts of the marriage. Sexual exploitation is coercing a person to do sexual things against her will, physically attacking the sexual parts of a woman's body and treating her like a sex object. Making a spouse feel guilty about the children, using the children to send messages or manipulating the children to turn against a parent are other forms of abuse. When a spouse seeks custody or demands excessive visits with the children in order to seek revenge against his spouse or harass her, he is also carrying out a type of domestic violence. Declaring or carrying out threats to do something to hurt one emotionally such as to commit suicide, report her to immigration or welfare, or leave one with no money is another abusive form of power and control. Utilizing male privilege is when the husband treats the wife as a servant, dictates the "big" decisions and acts like the "master of the castle."

If you are the victim of domestic violence you need to file for an order of protection. One can file for an order of protection with or without an attorney in Family Court. If you are in the process of divorce your lawyer can make a motion for an order of protection in Supreme Court.

You should telephone the police and file a police report if you feel or believe you are in danger. A criminal case may be brought against your spouse. A case for an order of protection in Family Court or Supreme Court can exist simultaneously with the criminal case.


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Fault grounds for divorce include adultery, constructive abandonment for at least one (1) year, cruel and inhuman treatment, and imprisonment of a spouse for three (3) or more years. Prior to October 2010, other than a legal separation agreement that was filed with the court, divorces were based on fault.
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