In many years of practice we have learned that context is one of the imperatives that must be given to a court to avoid pitfalls in litigation in a domestic violence or child custody case. Obtaining a domestic violence restraining order may only require testimony from a single incident, but the history of the relationship is imperative and provides context. While a full medical history may not be required to prove the case in order to obtain the restraining order, relationship history is strategic to the chronicle when children are present and custody is disputed.
Each jurisdiction has its own legal standard for providing protection against domestic violence. It is important that the attorney and client are aware of the laws in their jurisdiction. It is well known that domestic violence cases can become some of the most contentious child custody cases, in part because abusers struggle to maintain control. Therefore, the lawyer representing a victim must also know the actual science and try to prevent unscientific statements from being used as witnesses. It is imperative that the attorney knows what acceptable scientific evidence is and what the standard of evidence is in relation to a protective order and custody and is able to object to its misuse as well as actual science.