Domestic violence in Georgia is a pervasive issue that deeply impacts families across the nation. It tears at the fabric of homes, leaving emotional scars that can last a lifetime. In such challenging times, understanding how domestic violence laws in Georgia intertwine with family law matters becomes paramount. At Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C., we recognize the profound importance of this understanding, and our domestic violence attorneys in Georgia are committed to guiding individuals and families through domestic violence implications on both sides of family law matters. 

In the face of domestic violence, every decision carries immense weight, impacting not just the individual but entire families. We stand ready to provide the clarity and guidance needed to navigate these complexities, offering personalized legal strategies tailored to each client’s unique circumstances. The goal of our domestic violence attorneys is not merely to secure legal victories, but to restore a sense of security and dignity to those who have endured the unimaginable.

The legal aftermath of domestic assault convictions can be dire, potentially resulting in imprisonment, hefty fines, restraining orders, loss of custody rights, and other life-altering penalties. Conversely, the personal toll of experiencing domestic violence can be devastating, wreaking havoc on one’s mental health, physical well-being, and financial stability.

With Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C., you’re not just another case file; you’re a valued individual deserving of respect, compassion, and unwavering advocacy. If you are experiencing family domestic violence in Georgia or have been wrongly accused of domestic violence in Alpharetta, our experienced domestic violence attorneys in Georgia are prepared to fight to protect your rights. 

Several national and local hotlines can offer immediate support, resources, and advice, such as:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
  • Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-33-HAVEN (1-800-334-2836)

Defining Domestic Violence in Georgia 

Family violence under the domestic violence laws in Georgia is defined as abuse between household members, family members, or unwed partners. Domestic violence is any felony, battery, simple battery, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.

When a potential family violence incident is reported to law enforcement, they may arrest the individual(s) suspected to be the primary aggressor. The first step for the victim of domestic violence is to petition for a protective order.  Subsequently, the local court assesses whether protective orders are warranted to ensure the safety of the victim. Typically, an emergency protective order is issued if the courts believe there is enough proof to justify the order until further legal proceedings ensue.

In matters of Georgia divorce laws, instances of family violence hold significant weight in child custody determinations. Judges prioritize the well-being of minor children, considering the evidence, particularly if they were exposed to or witnessed domestic violence.

Should you find yourself embroiled in child custody proceedings following an arrest, it is imperative to consult with a Georgia family law attorney promptly. The presence of domestic violence evidence can profoundly influence custody disputes in Georgia courts, underscoring the importance of seeking legal guidance without delay, rather than waiting until legal proceedings conclude.

The Georgia Family Violence Act 

Code section 19-13-1 states that “Family violence” involves the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents, and children, stepparents, and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household:

  • Any felony; or
  • Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

However, the term “family violence” shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.

Examples of Domestic Violence Acts in Georgia 

Abusive behavior can take a variety of forms but generally includes behaviors that intimidate, threaten, frighten, isolate, terrorize, blame, hurt, injure, wound, or humiliate someone. Domestic violence is indiscriminate, affecting individuals regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, educational or socioeconomic status. Domestic violence can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual partnerships, whether married, cohabiting, dating, or sharing parental responsibilities. Here are the six primary categories of abusive behaviors from the Office on Violence Against Women that constitute domestic violence  against a family member:

Physical Abuse 

Types of physical abuse include hitting, grabbing, shoving, slapping, pulling hair, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying medical care or forcing drugs and or alcohol. 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves coercing or attempting to coerce sexual contact without informed consent. Sexual abuse includes but is not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is defined as undermining a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-worth. Examples include frequent criticism, harming one’s relationship with their children, or gaslighting about their abilities. 

Economic Abuse

This refers to the manipulation or coercion used to control someone’s access to financial resources, which could include restricting access to money, assets, or credit. It also involves unfairly utilizing a person’s economic resources or exerting undue influence over their financial decisions. This manipulation may extend to forcing defaults on financial obligations, exploiting legal powers like guardianship or conservatorship, or neglecting one’s duty to act in the best interest of someone under their care.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse encompasses various behaviors, including but not limited to inducing fear through intimidation, making threats of physical harm to oneself, the partner, children, or their loved ones, damaging pets or property, and enforcing isolation from social circles, family, or professional environments.

Technological Abuse

Technological Abuse happens when any action or recurring behavior with the intent to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, impersonate, exploit, extort, or monitor another individual, utilizing various forms of technology. These technologies include, but are not limited to, internet-enabled devices, online platforms, computers, mobile devices, cameras, imaging software, apps, location trackers, communication tools, and other emerging technological mediums.

Orders of Protection for Georgia Domestic Violence 

The state of Georgia allows Temporary Protective Orders for a variety of restrictions and consequences for the abuser. According to the Georgia Commission On Family Violence, “A protective order, relating to acts of family violence, is described in Official Code of Georgia Annotated ∋19-13-4 as follows:

The court may, upon the filing of a verified petition, grant any protective order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of acts of family violence. The orders or agreements may:

  • a. Direct a party to refrain from such acts;
  • b. Grant to a  party possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other party from the residence or household;
  • c. Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, and his or her children:
  • d. Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
  • e. Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent’s eviction has not been ordered;
  • f. Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law;
  • g. Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
  • h. Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
  • i. Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;
  • j. Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party; and
  • k. Order the respondent/abuser to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence. 

Obtaining an Order of Protection

Securing a restraining order in Georgia is relatively straight-forward. First, the person seeking a protective order will complete a Petition for Protective Order, where you will need to provide details about the incident(s) that have led you to seeking protection from the court. Once that is complete, you will then file the Petition with the court in the county where the person you are seeking protection from lives. Filing the Petition puts your matter on the court calendar to be heard in front of a judge. Once you have obtained a court date, it is very important that you attend the initial hearing–otherwise, the court will dismiss the matter and you would have to start the process over again. At the initial hearing, the judge will decide if you need an Emergency Order of Protection (EPO) or Temporary Order of Protection (TPO). If a Temporary Protective Order is granted, it may encompass directives regarding temporary child custody, child support, spousal support, and possession of marital property. The TPO will remain in effect until your next court date, which will potentially be set for trial. This means that both sides will present their evidence as to why the Order of Protection should be granted or dismissed. If the judge grants your Petition for Protective Order, this Order will remain in effect for up to twelve (12) months in Georgia.   

Upon approval, you’ll be directed to another area of the courthouse where the protective order will be prepared, stamped, and handed to you. The court system should ensure prompt service of the protective order on the alleged abuser by a sheriff’s deputy within hours of its issuance.

It’s imperative to thoroughly acquaint yourself with every aspect of the order and carry a copy of the protection order at all times, especially when law enforcement intervention may be necessary. Police will require the order’s details to address any issues appropriately.

Defending Against an Order of Protection

If a protective order has been filed against you in Georgia, a domestic violence attorney can assist in defending your rights and interests to help preserve your future, especially if you believe you were wrongly accused. Even if you believe the protective order is inaccurate, it is extremely important to obey the protective order. Your domestic violence attorney will help to fight against the protective order on your behalf through the proper legal channels. Your domestic violence attorney’s defense strategy typically includes evaluating if the motion for the temporary order had valid legal grounds and if the temporary order had sufficient factual or evidentiary support. 

The Role of A Domestic Violence Attorney in Alpharetta 

In Georgia, violent acts against intimate partners and family are punished more severely than if the act was not deemed family violence. Second offenses can also carry harsher punishments, so a domestic violence attorney in Georgia can make a major impact on your life depending on your previous record or prior false claims. A skilled domestic violence attorney in Georgia provides individuals and families alike the ability to fight and protect their rights from both sides of domestic violence accusations. Reach out to Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C. today to learn how our skilled attorney team can assist with matters related to domestic violence in Georgia