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Oh, yes...as a practical aspect, if you are in a relationship with someone who is assaulting or has assaulted you, or were previously in a relationship with this person, or are fighting a new significant other of your former partner, congratulations, you have just stepped on a land mine called “domestic violence.”

This particular land mine is especially fun, because not only do most states take a more careful look at the incident, some place it on its own docket with prosecutors assigned to deal with “people like you” who act against people they are in or have been in a relationship with, and they don’t like people who do that kind of thing. If you are having trouble in a relationship that is troubled, get counseling and if that doesn’t help get the $&@^ out.

Do not be afraid to call the police to report harassment and if need be, consult with an attorney to discuss how to best proceed with restraining orders and orders of protection. This is an area where you need to document, document...and then document some more. If the SHTF you’d better have your paperwork in order to have counsel show the police the history of what has been ongoing in order to establish the reasonableness and appropriateness of your actions.

Family: we all love them even if we can’t stand them. Mothers-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters (I’ve got one, anyone want another?). I can’t tell you how to deal with your family. Hell, I can barely deal with mine (really, does anyone want another sister? I’ll throw in cash, not much but some). If anything happens between you and a family member, guess which docket you are on? That’s right: domestic violence and the attendant docket that is just full of people who society just doesn’t cotton to anymore.

When dealing with family, stay sober. Yes, I know, drinking helps when you deal with them (or in some cases, allows you to understand them), but it does impair judgment and can land you in trouble you might have been able to walk away from if you were sober.

If you are having an argument with a family member, don’t let it get out of hand. Ask them to leave if it’s your place, or leave theirs if you have to. Too many times tempers get heated, someone snaps and POOF: the DV docket. Other than the emotional aspects of realizing you got into a stupid conflict with your brother-in-law over something neither of you really cared about, if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime, kiss your ability to own firearms goodbye.

As above, if you have issues with a family member that go beyond simple arguments and you are afraid something may occur, don’t be afraid to get the issue documented with the authorities. If the first piece of information the police get is a 911 call after a serious incident where you used force, you get some new labels: “assailant” and “defendant.”

Custody issues related to kids: This usually involves drop-offs and pickups, and can be a really shitty time for everyone. Even former spouses who absolutely won’t speak to each other have to inevitably confront each other for these exchanges. They can be tense, emotional and one or both might be spoiling for a confrontation about long-standing issues which either have not been addressed, addressed improperly, or addressed very well by one side’s attorney to the detriment of the other. Throw in Mom’s new boy toy who’s heard “all about you” or Dad’s perky, attractive “friend” who is not quite finished with college, and things can get ugly. Aside from the issues of domestic violence that confrontations here raise, fighting in front of your kids may get child services involved and you may become familiar with a new phrase you’d rather not be hearing, “Risk of injury to a minor.”

When dealing with custody issues such as pickups and drop-offs, consider using a public place with good security and surveillance systems. If you can, inform security that you and your spouse will be doing a custody switch and ask if they can possibly have a guard in the area.

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