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Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. Blog

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Domestic Violence and Divorce

71 were shot
30 were stabbed
10 were beaten 
5 were strangled 
6 were killed in some other way

In total, 122 Pennsylvania victims of domestic violence died last year. 68% were killed by a former or current intimate partner. 

It is easy to think “this will never happen to me” or “ what is happening to me is not that serious,” but the truth is 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner. 

At the Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr., we have helped countless victims of domestic violence sever the legal ties binding themselves to their abuser. We understand that leaving an abuser can put you at risk of being harmed — in many ways — so we help throw up legal shields to protect you, and can guide you if you need help with more practical things like finding a new place to live. 

A Discrete Divorce 

Domestic violence is considered grounds for divorce in the state of Pennsylvania, but it is not necessary to disclose the fact that you have been abused in order to obtain a divorce. Under our state’s no-fault divorce law, the courts can award a divorce to any couple that wants one, without either party having to take the blame for the split. 

It is up to you to decide if you want to file for no-fault divorce, or if you would rather file for fault-based divorce and let the world know that you have been abused. There are pros and cons to both, and our firm can advise you how either scenario would play out in your specific circumstances. 

Using the Law As A Shield 

In addition to helping clients get divorced, we frequently help clients who are victims of domestic violence get Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders.

A PFA, which many people call a restraining order, is a way to shield yourself from your abuser while your divorce or child custody case is pending. It is a legal order from a court that restricts the rights of an abuser. A PFA can require that your abuser:

  • Stop contacting you,
  • Leave your shared residence,
  • Give up temporary custody of your children,
  • Pay temporary child support,
  • Give up firearms and any gun permits, and/or
  • Seek counseling.

Seeking a PFA is a legal action in and of itself. It is not part of the divorce or child custody case, nor is it a criminal charge. A PFA can, however, significantly impact a divorce or child custody case, and it may lead to criminal charges being filed against an abuser.

Here to Help

If you are being abused, it is important to seek help. In addition to contacting our office to handle the legal aspects of a divorce or child custody case where a PFA or other restraining order may be necessary. You may also want to reach out to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence for local shelter and resource information at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, you should call 911.


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