Man kills child and himself in custody dispute

There is perhaps nothing as frightening as being in an abusive relationship. Though someone may want to get out, they often don't know how, fearing for their own or their children's safety. Often the situation is left to fester too long, and sometimes the results are tragic. In matters of child custody in California, the well being of the children and their right to be free from fear of injury is paramount. No one should be made to suffer in a relationship built on fear.

One recent case in El Cajon, California, demonstrates the need for early intervention. A 32-year-old man in the process of a divorce shot and killed his mother-in-law and his 4-month-old daughter. Then he set the house on fire and sent photos of it by text message to his wife. A stand-off with police followed, with the man ultimately taking his own life.

The case underscores that domestic violence is real and its results are devastating. The couple was fighting over child custody. It is not known what violent behavior the man demonstrated; though clearly the fact the woman sought a divorce is indicative of problems.

But the question is how to extricate oneself from a relationship where the threat of violence hovers close to the point of reality. While in truth no one can be protected all of the time, consulting with an attorney experienced in all aspects of matrimonial law and procedure is essential. Attorneys can help with securing a restraining order or other protection orders. And many state's attorney's offices have special units to help victims of domestic violence. There is community support, and it is not necessary or even advisable to fight the fight alone.

Source: UPI, "Man texted his wife about family killings," Oct. 5, 2011

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