Domestic Violence FAQ's

Attorney Allen Bailey, of the Law Offices of Allen M. Bailey in Anchorage, is pleased to provide the following answers to questions frequently encountered in his practice of helping victims of domestic violence in divorce and family law matters throughout south central Alaska. We hope these answers are helpful to you. If you have other questions or need legal representation in a domestic violence matter, please contact the Law Offices of Allen M. Bailey for immediate assistance.

What is domestic violence?

Alaska law defines domestic violence broadly to include assault, harassment, threats, stalking and a number of other criminal offenses committed or attempted against one household member by another household member. "Household member" is also broadly defined and includes current and former spouses, current and former boyfriends/girlfriends, and relatives, including former relations by marriage.

What can a protective order do?

A protective order can require the perpetrator not to threaten you or commit any acts of domestic violence against you, including stalking or harassment. The order can also require the abuser not to have any contact with you, either directly or indirectly, including telephone contact or face-to-face communication. It can order the abuser to move out of the house if you were sharing a residence. The subject can also be ordered to stay away from your school or workplace or your children's school.

A protective order can also require the subject not to possess or use controlled substances or to possess a firearm, and the perpetrator can be required to enter into a substance abuse treatment program or a batterer's rehabilitation program.

A protective order can also require the abuser to pay spousal support or other expenses associated with the domestic violence, such as the cost of shelter, medical expenses, or counseling, or to repair or replace damaged property. In addition, it can order child custody and visitation and require the payment of child support.

These are some of the more common functions of the protective order, but the order can be adapted to meet the particular needs of the person seeking the order.

How long does a protective order last?

There are two types of protective orders: 20-day protective orders and long-term protective orders. A 20-day protective order takes effect immediately without prior notice to the subject of the order, but it only lasts 20 days. The 20-day order will not be enforceable in other states. In order to obtain a long-term order, you have to provide notice to the perpetrator of the domestic violence that you are asking for a protective order and a hearing must be held during which both sides may present evidence and testimony. Most of the provisions of a long-term order last for one year, but the protection against the perpetrator's committing domestic violence, stalking or harassment against you lasts much longer unless a court specifically cancels the order.

How can domestic violence against a spouse affect a child custody matter?

A parent who assaults the other parent and causes serious physical injury, or who commits more than one act of domestic violence against the other parent, may not be awarded custody of a child or unsupervised visitation with the child without first complying with certain legal requirements, such as completing a batterer's intervention or substance abuse treatment program. The court can require that visitation be supervised at the perpetrator's expense and can prohibit overnight visitation, among other conditions.

Even where only the spouse is directly abused by a parent figure, this does not mean that the child is not harmed. There are important reasons why a person who commits domestic violence should not be awarded custody of the children. Please see our page on child custody for a fuller discussion of this issue or contact our office for assistance.