As Domestic Turmoil Surges from the COVID-19 Crisis, Minnesota Courts Continue to Address Emergency Family Matters

The governor's stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the coronavirus is causing tension in many Minnesota homes, inciting domestic violence and creating emotionally unsafe living conditions. As family members spend more time together, under the stress of the public health crisis, arguments are becoming increasingly dangerous, without the ability to escape by staying with other family or friends. This can be especially harmful for the most vulnerable among us, including children and the elderly.

If this is happening in your household, you do not need to wait until the pandemic is over to get relief through the judicial system. Minnesota Courts continue to hear cases involving domestic violence, including Order for Protection (OFP) matters, and emergency motions in other family cases, such as marriage dissolution and custody matters. Domestic abuse victims may obtain an OFP protecting them and/or their minor child from an abuser.

Under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, domestic abuse includes "physical harm, bodily injury, or assault," criminal sexual conduct, terroristic threats, and interference with an emergency call, as well as "the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault," "if committed against a family or household member by a family or household member."

Where there is an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, a court may grant an "ex parte" order for protection without first holding a hearing or receiving anything from the other party. Similarly, in a divorce or custody case, when there is an immediate danger of physical harm to the minor children of the parties, the court may issue an ex parte, emergency order denying parenting time or granting custody of minor children.

When faced with abuse, or false accusations of abuse, it is essential to seek professional legal help to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially in these unprecedented times. Burns & Hansen's experienced family law team is available to help you access the judicial system now.

To protect your safety during the COVID-19 threat, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us via telephone or video conferencing, as well as in person. Please call our office at (952) 564-6262 to discuss your case.