Two guiding principles for domestic violence cases
One ought to feel safe in his/her own home.
Principle #1 ought to be the attorney's starting point… always!
As attorneys when we get a call about a so-called “DV case,” we immediately go into attorney mode; trying to figure out if what this person is telling us fits within the parameters defined as DV in the Family Code (FC). All too often we forget to analyze it in terms of humans: Does this person feel safe in her own home? Or in her place of business? Or?
Of course there is conflict between billable hours (i.e.“get to the point”) and letting a client vent. But DV cases are of a special breed. The attorney's role is not that of just an attorney; here is where the title of “counselor at law” becomes applicable and really gets earned. And yes, there are times where the attorney must counsel the client that while her fears are quite reasonable, they don't rise to the level of DV under the Code.
But just because facts don't rise to the level of DV protection does not mean they are not actionable! For example, if the child(ren) saw the event, there could very well be a need for a custody or visitation change. Likewise, if there is drug or alcohol use. This is why when one calls an attorney, the attorney does not ask, “tell me all the relevant facts.” You tell the attorney all the facts and you let the attorney determine what is relevant and actionable.