Legal Issues and Legal Options
Many survivors of domestic violence find that their situation requires resolution within the legal system. Often the work of building safety, separating from a violent relationship, establishing self-sufficiency and safety for children, can require working with the legal system. In general, your issues may be addressed within various types of courts.
For information about a wide range of legal issues related to domestic violence, visit "Where do we go from Here?" A Self-Help Guide for Domestic Violence Survivors and Advocates. This guide is provided by Community Legal Aid and updated in 2012.
Legal issues will be addressed in different courts, depending on the nature of the issue.
Criminal – Criminal courts deal with matters concerning acts considered harmful to the general public that are forbidden by law and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. If your situation involves prosecution of crimes committed against you by the abuser, it will involve criminal court. For information and connection to the District Attorney's office, visit the Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan website.
Criminal processes are generally started by calling a local law enforcement (police) department. Find the Hampshire County municipal and campus police departments.
Civil – Civil courts address the wide range of legal issues that are not criminal complaints, but are lawsuits to enforce private rights, to obtain compensation, or to recover monetary damages. Restraining orders are granted through a civil process. If the restraining order is violated, it can then become a criminal matter.
Probate and Family – This is the court that addresses a wide range of issues involving families, marriage and divorce, children, property, and marital estates.
You can find a wide range of information about Hampshire County Probate and Family Court at their website.
Courts in Hampshire County
- Hampshire County Courthouse (Northampton)
- Hampshire County Probate and Family court (Northampton)
- Eastern Hampshire District Court (Belchertown)
- Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile court (Hadley and Greenfield)
For more information about legal issues and your options, visit the Legal Resources page.