Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Guns, divorce, and protective orders

Not every marriage is the story book picture of bliss. Some marriages are full of emotion, verbal, and physical abuse. While some people divorce because of a cheating spouse or because the love just isn't there anymore, others divorce out of fear for their lives. In recent years there have unfortunately been countless stories of divorcing spouses being assaulted, harassed and killed by those that promised to love them always.

A Utah woman is alleging that, after her husband was served with divorce papers, he took her one and only firearm, locking it away while asking if she felt threatened. The woman who has reported being emotionally abused for years reports that even after the divorce the intimidation continued. The alleged acts rose to such a level that the couple is now in court battling over a protective order filed by the man's ex wife. Of particular significance in this case is the man's 300 plus gun arsenal which he uses to teach firearm classes. The weapons have been confiscated since the beginning of the proceedings and are unlikely to be returned if the protective order is put into place.

Protective orders can be granted by either a civil or criminal court. Civil orders do not place the person in jail unless they break the order. The orders are used to prevent and stop a person from contacting or being in the vicinity of another. Criminal orders differ from civil in that they are enacted by a prosecutor and usually accompany a criminal charge. In domestic situations protective orders can require individuals to turn over firearms and move out of residences.

Protective orders can be great tools at preventing the escalation of situations but it is important to remember they are only pieces of paper.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah gun advocate's ex-wife presses for protective order," Marissa Lang, Oct. 28, 2013

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