Q: Can a family lawyer help a domestic violence victim?
In the majority of cases, couples considering getting a divorce in Pennsylvania have many issues to work out in the transition from a single household to two separate ones.
In addition to the division of marital property, there are issues of spousal support (also known as “alimony”) including who is responsible for paying it, how much they must pay, and for how long they must pay it.
If the couple has children together, perhaps the hardest thing to work out is child custody and support terms. Without children, couples could split and never see each other again. But when children are involved, co-parenting often results in frequent interaction, especially before the children reach majority. Even after their children are grown adults, former spouses may see each other at certain holidays or significant milestones like marriages, the birth of grandchildren, and more.
While it’s preferable if the parents can agree on the terms of child support and custody, in the absence of such an agreement the court will decide these matters using the “best interests of the child” standard. While each case is different, it’s generally determined the children do better when raised by two cooperative parents. Unfortunately, there are instances when the presence of one or both parents would not be in the best interest of the child.
Sadly, domestic violence exists in society. One spouse may physically and mentally abuse the other and/or their children. Sometimes, the shocking behavior goes on for years, causing long-lasting physical and emotional trauma. And even death.
In Montgomery County, a father was recently sentenced to 20-40 years in prison for abusing his wife and children. He reportedly admitted in court to stabbing his wife with a steak knife and repeatedly beating her. And with respect to his children, allegedly admitted to:
- shocking his two children using an electric dog collar
- sticking needles under their nails until they bled
- choking them while sitting on them
- causing “serious brain injuries” by beating their heads with pipes and sticks.
Instead of beds, the children slept in “closed wooden boxes with holes”, according to authorities.
The three victims allegedly “suffer from
If you are considering divorce in Pennsylvania, or have questions regarding any area of family law, the Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. can help you. Along with the police department—which should be a victim’s first contact in an emergency
From our office in Reading, we’ve served clients throughout Reading and the surrounding counties of Pennsylvania for over 25 years.