The Huffington Post recently had a really interesting and sobering report called This is Not a Love Story, where they explore the issue of domestic violence and provide startling statistics.
In their story, deaths that were attributed to intimate partners in the month of January 2016 across the nation were studied. In a short 31 day period, "112 people were killed in suspected intimate partner homicides, including children and bystanders." In those cases, 89% of the perpetrators were men, and 77% of the victims were women. The cause of death of those 112 victims was gunshot (64 victims), stabbing (29 victims), blunt force trauma (11 victims), and strangulation or other means (8 victims).
In the cases studied for this report, over 50% of the victims had already left their intimate partner or were in the process of leaving. So to the bystander or person who has never dealt with a domestic violence situation, it may be easy to ask why the victim doesn't leave the abuser. The answer is complicated, but it is very clear that once the victim does leave or makes plans to leave, their life is much more likely to be in danger.
We must be supportive of the people in our lives who are victims of domestic violence, and do what we can to assist them in making a safe plan to get out. Most people do not have the experience necessary to successfully do this, so reaching out to experts is important. As anyone who works in family and domestic relations law can tell you, sometimes a protective order alone is not enough.
If you or someone you know are a victim of domestic violence and need assistance in making a safety plan to leave, reach out to the amazing resources available to you. In Adair, Adams, Clarke, Dallas, Decatur, Guthrie, Madison, Ringgold, Taylor and Union Counties, you can call Crisis Intervention and Advocacy's Crisis Line 24 hours a day at 1-800-400-4884. Nationwide, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Let's say and your spouse have decided to end your marriage. Let's say you have been able to sit down and work out all of the details -- where the children will live, how much time they will spend with both parents, who gets what property or debt, who gets the ceramic kitten collection, and who gets Aunt Sally's necklace she left to the two of you.
What if I told you that unless you filed for divorce and served the other party at least 90 days ago, you have to wait? Despite the fact that you both know things are finished. Despite the fact that you were able to come to an agreement that is the best possible agreement for your children, for your family.
This a reality that many people face. In Iowa, you must wait 90 days from the date that the opposing party was served with (or accepted service of) original notice of a petition for dissolution of marriage to get your final decree. (Iowa Code §598.19) There are rarely exceptions made for emergency or necessity, but each judge seems to vary on what exactly they consider an "emergency" or "necessity."
At a recent meeting of the task force that is working on reforming family law case processing in the State of Iowa, there was resounding support for the abolition of the 90 day waiting period. It was brought to our attention that some members of the legislature would not wish to make divorce any "easier." Let's talk about this.
Divorce is not easy on anyone. Many times the parties and their children are better off in the end, but there is a lot of turmoil for everyone involved as the process unfolds. This is true even if the adults in the situation are getting along well. Wouldn't it be beneficial to everyone involved if the court system listened to the needs of the parties? Wouldn't it be better for people to be allowed to move on when they have recognized a need to do so? Wouldn't it reduce the impact on children of divorce to have a schedule that the parents have sat down and determined will work for their family sooner rather than later? They say time heals all wounds, but I have seen in dissolution cases that time after the decree is entered heals all wounds. Until then, things are very raw and fresh in people's minds and making them wait can sometimes cause further breakdown in family relationships.
For now, we will have to continue to tell our clients to hurry up and wait even though their case, in all reality, should be done.
A blawg about solo, general and rural practice.
Melissa S. Larson is a solo practitioner in Greenfield, Iowa. She has a general practice, and offers mediation and collaborative law services. Melissa is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, grand-daughter, cousin, niece, aunt, friend, attorney, photographer, writer, student, teacher, and wanderer. She loves Gilmore Girls and Dr. Pepper, and knows far too many song lyrics.
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." -- Henry David Thoreau
"Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry." -- Jack Kerouac
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi
© 2019 Melissa S. Larson, P.C.