New Mexico Domestic Violence Lawyer

Over the past several decades, the domestic violence pendulum has swung in both directions. Until several years ago, many Bernalillo County judges almost never issued protective orders, especially ex parte protective orders, unless the alleged victim showed almost ironclad proof of immediate risk of harm. Prior incidents, no matter how egregious, were relevant, but not persuasive. Then, the pendulum swung the other way. Judges usually granted protective orders solely based on the alleged victim’s statement. The alleged abuser was powerless in the process.

Now, things have stabilized in this area. Most judges have accepted the fact that, in most cases, there are two sides to the story in domestic abuse matters. The environment has changed, but the needs of the litigants haven’t changed. Alleged victims need protection from physical, emotional or other harm. Alleged abusers need protection from the harsh consequences of protective orders. A New Mexico domestic violence lawyer from Stratton Family Law strongly advocates for either position.

What Qualifies as Domestic Violence in New Mexico?

A protected relationship is one element of domestic violence in the Land of Enchantment. Almost all protective orders involve husbands and wives. Ex-husbands and ex-wives are a rather distant second. Other protected relationships include:

  • Two adults who were never married but share a child,
  • Current or former dating partners,
  • Two people related by blood or marriage,
  • Current or former roommates, and
  • Some older adults and their caregivers.

Most of these categories are rather subjective. Dating partners is a good example. One or two dates usually don’t constitute a relationship. However, cohabitation isn’t required either.

The protected activity could be a one-time traumatic event, as is often the case, or a pattern of misconduct. Examples include:

  • Outburst of physical violence,
  • False imprisonment (usually blocking a person’s path or shutting a person inside an enclosed space),
  • Multiple physical threats, especially if the alleged abuser has the power to carry out these threats,
  • Stalking, following, or making repeated phone calls,
  • Interfering with utility or cell phone use or service, and
  • Destruction of property, including hurting or killing a pet.

Although one-time trauma or a pattern of misconduct could justify any type of protective order, it’s often difficult to prove that a pattern of misconduct, especially something like repeated telephone calls, makes a person reasonably fear for his/her physical safety. That’s an element in some of the types of protective orders listed below.

Types of Protective Orders

Contrary to popular myth, a civil protective order is more than a piece of paper. Law enforcement officers who don’t enthusiastically respond to domestic disturbance calls suddenly become very interested if a violation of a court order is involved. Additionally, a protective order makes domestic abuse a public record.

This process usually begins with an emergency protective order. If a protected relationship applies, judges normally issue these orders based on the alleged victim’s statement regarding protected activity. Generally, law enforcement requests these orders. In some counties, the alleged victim must make a personal request. An ongoing divorce or other family law matter could affect the outcome. There are no statistics as to how many alleged victims make false outcries to gain an advantage in a child custody or other proceeding. These instances are almost certainly rare, but they happen.

Emergency orders, which are usually effective for seventy-two hours, almost always include keep-away orders. If the alleged abuser and alleged victim share a residence, judges rarely issue kick-out orders, especially if the alleged abuser is paying the rent or mortgage. Usually, alleged victims must find alternative housing, at least until the permanent protective order hearing.

In the meantime, a judge may issue a temporary protective order if s/he believes, based on the alleged victim’s affidavit, that domestic abuse occurred. This order, which is usually effective for ten days, could include a temporary child custody order.

Finally, a permanent protective order hearing takes place after the alleged abuser receives official notice of the proceedings and has a chance to prepare a defense to the allegations. Based on the evidence presented at this hearing, and arguments from a New Mexico domestic abuse lawyer, the judge could extend the order for six months or allow it to expire. An additional six-month extension is available.

If the judge renews the order, the permanent order usually includes other provisions, such as temporary financial support, expense reimbursement, surrender of owned firearms, supervised child visitation, and anger management or other self-improvement classes.

At one time or another, domestic violence touches almost every family in Bernalillo County. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Albuquerque, contact Stratton Family Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.