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What laws offer protections to victims of domestic violence?

A claim of domestic violence can implicate both federal and state laws, as well as civil and/or criminal liability. The bottom line is that there are laws that offer protections to victims of domestic violence. 

At the federal level, the 1994 Violence Against Women Act established a national domestic violence hotline, codified certain confidentiality provisions, and requires protection orders obtained by victims to be recognized and enforced in all U.S. states and jurisdictions. States also offer their own protections.

Yet in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, a number of family law provisions may need to be revised to include more gender neutral language. Fortunately, Tennessee’s laws regarding domestic assault contain broad language. In addition to current or former spouses, the domestic assault law encompasses victims who may be cohabitants, sexual or dating partners, and relatives, among others.

Not every state is as inclusive. In a recent example, a lawsuit brought by a woman in another state seeks a more inclusive interpretation of the domestic violence law authorizing protective orders. The woman wanted protection against her former same-sex fiancée. The applicable law defined unmarried household members as only heterosexual couples. The court is expected to make a ruling within a few months.

One thing is clear: There are legal procedures in requesting court-ordered protection and relief from domestic abuse or violence. A law firm that focuses on a broad family law practice can help victims get the protections they deserve. To learn more about the options available to domestic violence victims in Tennessee, check out the information provided in the family law section of our law firm’s website.

Source: Associated Press, “State court: Domestic violence law unfair to gay couples,” Meg Kinnard, March 24, 2016

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