domestic violence laws and options for legal counsel

Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States, according to the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The majority of these women are abused by someone in their own families. Most often, domestic violence involves an abusive spouse.

In addition to being physically painful, emotionally devastating, and illegal, domestic violence greatly impacts the terms of a divorce or child custody arrangement. If you are seeking a divorce from your abusive spouse, it is important that you understand your rights as a victim of domestic violence. 

Domestic Violence Laws in New Mexico

The Crimes Against Household Members Act makes domestic violence a crime in New Mexico. Despite the name of the law, it’s not necessary that family members live together for domestic violence to occur. Instead, the law provides that assault or battery against any of the following people is considered to be domestic violence:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Parent, stepparent, or parent-in-law (including former stepparents and in-laws)
  • Grandparent or grandparent-in-law
  • Your child’s other parent if you are dating or have an intimate relationship

More specifically, it's a crime to do any of the following to any of the people described above:

  • Unlawful, intentional touching in a rude, insolent, or angry way
  • Application of force in a rude, insolent, or angry manner
  • Any attempt to commit unlawful, intentional touching or force in a rude, insolent, or angry way
  • Any unlawful act, threat, or menacing conduct that causes one of the people described above to reasonably believe he or she is in imminent danger
  • Strike or assault a household member with a deadly weapon or with intent to commit a felony

What to Do if You’re Hurt by Domestic Violence

In addition to being a crime, domestic violence is terrifying. You may fear for your own safety or the safety of your children, but there are legal actions that you can take to protect yourself and your kids. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may seek a protective order, also known as a restraining order, from a New Mexico court. The terms of a protective order vary. In some cases, a protective order may:

  • Require the individual who hurt you to stay a certain distance away from you and your property
  • Require the individual who hurt you to receive counseling
  • Award temporary sole custody of your children to you or another guardian

Once you have a protective order in place, you may contact the police to have the offender arrested if the specific terms of a protective order are violated.

How Domestic Violence May Affect a New Mexico Divorce

A domestic violence arrest or conviction can also impact the dissolution of your marriage and any child custody and visitation arrangements. Domestic violence can, for example:

  • Be grounds for divorce. These actions can be evidence of cruel and inhumane treatment or incompatibility.
  • Impact child custody and visitation. The court may decide that custody, unsupervised visitation, and even supervised visitation with a parent who committed domestic violence might not be in the best interests of your children. The custody and visitation order may be written to keep the abusive parent from seeing the kids.

However, domestic violence shouldn't impact an abusive individual's responsibility to pay child support. The duty to provide financial support for minor children continues even if the court orders sole custody to the other guardian and limited or no visitation with the parent who committed the violent acts.

How Genus Law Group Can Help

Divorce and child custody decisions can be challenging even under amicable circumstances. They might be even more problematic when domestic violence is a factor. You should expect that your spouse or your children’s other parent is going to make divorce and child custody difficult. 

Accordingly, we encourage you to speak to a New Mexico domestic violence and family law attorney as soon as possible. The experienced and compassionate team at Genus Law Group will make sure your rights are protected. Call our experienced domestic violence lawyers today for a confidential case evaluation or click here.