If you are being abused and need immediate police protection dial 911.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Whether you are the person experiencing abuse or you have been accused of perpetrating abuse, it is a time of complex legal and emotional questions, concerns, and issues. Our team of attorneys have backgrounds consisting of personal understanding, legal knowledge and experience, education, and emotional understanding to help guide and support you through this difficult time. One of our associate attorneys has over 12 years advocating for people experiencing domestic violence, and training healthcare and community professionals on identifying and reaching out to patients and individuals living in domestic violence. Our team has the experience to prepare for and zealously represent you in the courtroom and during settlement negotiations. At the same time we will provide you with the emotional support you need.
Who can seek protection through Family Court for domestic violence:
The first step in obtaining legal help is to identify whether you are experiencing domestic violence. Often when defining domestic violence, people tend to take the perspective of a heterosexual relationship. However, based on Family Code, Section 6211, and a societal viewpoint, domestic violence can occur within: (a) a married or dating heterosexual relationship; (b) a married or dating same sex relationship; (c) a married or dating transgender relationship; (d) between cohabitants as defined by Family Code, Section 6209; (e) between individuals who have a child in common; (f) a child where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected; and (g) any person related by blood, who is: a grandparent, brother/sister, grandchild, parent-in-law and/or daughter/son-in-law.
What is domestic violence:
Domestic violence is often thought of as physical, emotional, and sexual violence. However, family law extends this definition of domestic violence. First, physical and sexual violence can result in a visible injury, such as a bruise, scratch, a broken bone, and it could have been intentional, reckless or an attempt to cause bodily injury. Examples of physical abuse are: kicking, hitting, slapping, stalking, throwing items at the person, pulling hair, spitting on the person, and shoving. It is important to remember that physical and sexual violence can occur where there is no visible injury. However, if a visible injury occurs, it is important to document the injury whether this is through your doctor, the police, or your attorney.
Emotional and psychological abuse is often considered by the person being abused, to be one of the most hidden and destructive forms of domestic violence as the “bruises” are on the inside. Examples are: threatening to harm you and/or the children, name calling in front of the children, putting you in apprehension of imminent physical harm, and intimidation.
Finally, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, does not limit domestic violence to “the actual infliction of physical injury or assault” and in fact some courts have defined abuse to include disturbing the peace of the other party.
Legal Protection through Family Court:
Seeking protection from domestic abuse can occur during the process of seeking a dissolution of marriage, a paternity action, or as a domestic violence issue only. Allegations of domestic violence and legal action to request a domestic violence restraining order have serious legal and possible employment after effects for the perpetrator. Domestic violence restraining orders are available to provide safety and protection from abuse, and our firm seeks this type of an order for our clients for this purpose only.
The family law court can order a Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Order based on the facts submitted to the Court, and will usually be for a period of 20 to 25 days, until the court hearing date. At that hearing, based on the evidence presented, a Judicial Officer may issue a Permanent Domestic Violence Restraining Order, which dependent on the Judge’s order, can be up to five years. Permanent Domestic Violence Orders can be renewed, dependent on the facts.
For the person who is abused, and the additional individuals for which protection was ordered, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders have multiple legal results. This type of restraining order has the purpose of preventing future abuse through a “stay away” order. Other orders can be requested, such as exclusive use of the family residence; financial support; protection of pets; child custody; and visitation. A person against whom a domestic violence restraining order has been issued, cannot possess guns, and will be registered in the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).
When parties are also obtaining a dissolution of their marriage, and a permanent domestic violence restraining order is granted, there are many potential legal consequences on the person against whom the order is issued, dependent on the facts, and if a criminal conviction occurs. Examples of the impact a domestic violence restraining order has on the perpetrator are: orders to attend an anger management program; parenting classes; overcoming the burden of proof to receive temporary or permanent spousal support; and overcoming the burden of proof of what is in the parties’ child’s best interest, as to custody and visitation, with the perpetrator.
A domestic violence restraining order will potentially impact many aspects of your life, including your employment. All domestic violence is unacceptable, and we are committed to providing pro bono assistance through a community domestic violence shelter. However, someone who has been falsely accused of domestic violence needs legal representation, to protect against the consequences of a domestic violence restraining order. Our firm has years of legal experience and knowledge as to the consequence of domestic violence, to vigorously defend the legal rights of the wrongfully accused.