Domestic violence is a serious problem in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. It is important that individuals understand the domestic violence laws of their own jurisdictions so that they understand who and how protections are granted. This post will examine the types of relationships that may provide domestic violence protections to victims, but no part of this post should be read as legal advice.
Defining relationships for the purposes of domestic violence protections
Domestic violence happens between people who are in a family or household together. Some of the relationships that can be included in this broad definition are:
- Married people or formerly married people
- Individuals who are cohabitating or who formerly cohabitated
- People who share or shared marital or blood ties
- People who have had children together
- Individuals who were in substantive non-marital relationships or who were engaged to be married
To this end, victims of domestic violence should not avoid seeking legal help just because their attackers are not their spouses or current partners. In Massachusetts, domestic violence can happen between people in many different types of relationships and even relationships that have since ended.
What is a substantive non-marital or dating relationship?
When a person is or was married to their attacker, evidence of their relationship is clear through their legal commitment. It can be more difficult to show that a non-marital relationship was substantive enough to warrant domestic violence protections. When a person alleges domestic violence based on a substantive non-martial relationship, they may have to show that their relationship was long, involved, and/or intimate to demonstrate its substantiveness.
It is important that victims of domestic violence seek help to prevent injury or death at the hands of a violent partner or ex-partner. An attorney who represents victims of domestic violence can be a great asset for a person who is unsure of how to get out of their dangerous domestic situation. Legal options to exist for victims and can be pursued with the help of committed legal representatives.