Legislation would give immediate divorce to victims of abuse

Proposed law to speed up divorce
Gwen Salley (Source: Rose-Neath Funeral Home)
Gwen Salley (Source: Rose-Neath Funeral Home)
Michael Salley (Source: Michael Salley/Facebook)
Michael Salley (Source: Michael Salley/Facebook)

BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - Victims of domestic violence in Louisiana could get an immediate divorce in cases where a child or a spouse is abused while a protective order is in place, under a bill Louisiana lawmakers are now considering.

SB 292 was proposed before the abduction and murder of a DeSoto Parish woman late last week at the hands of her estranged husband. The legislation establishes grounds for immediate divorce when a spouse or child has been physically or sexually abused by the other spouse and when a protective order or injunction has been issued against the other spouse.

It would result in an instant legal separation between the two parties, and it's a law that likely would have applied in Gwen Salley's case.

The 39-year-old mother had filed a protective order against 43-year-old Michael Salley just a week before she was killed in what police are describing as a murder-suicide. Michael Salley was arrested and served the order while in jail.

The protective order that was filed on April 29 listed the Salley's divorce as pending.

Michael Salley eventually posted bail on $50,000 bond, before allegedly abducted his estranged wife in DeSoto Parish and forced her to drive to Caddo Parish, where he shot her before turning the gun on himself.

The restraining order filed by Gwen Salley a week before her death includes a written explanation detailing the reasons she feared for her safety. She wrote that her husband was abusive, had threatened to kill her, their daughter, and himself on a few different occasions, and that he had even fired a shot into the ceiling while making the threats.

The bill did not cover much legislative ground Tuesday. It has moved from the Senate to the House, but at last check it was pending in legislative bureau, under review for technical amendments.

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