California takes allegations of domestic violence seriously. If you have been abused or threatened with abuse, you should consider requesting a court-issued restraining order against your abuser. On the other hand, if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, a restraining order could jeopardize your rights to child custody, visitation, and more.
When accusations of domestic violence are raised, they change the nature of a family law case. Turn to MacKay & Martin, LLP. Our experience with all aspects of domestic violence allows us to vigorously defend the interests of our clients, regardless of which side of the case they are on.
What Is A Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
Under California law, there are different types of restraining orders that victims of harassment, violence, abuse, or threats of abuse can request. A domestic violence restraining order specifically protects an individual who is in a domestic relationship with their abuser. To request this, you have to first make sure your relationship is considered “domestic.” In California, that means you and the abuser are:
- Married (including a common law marriage)
- Divorced or separated
- Registered domestic partners
- Dating or used to date
- In a non-married, intimate relationship
- Live together or used to live together
- The parents of a child
You can also request a domestic violence restraining order if one of these relationships is present:
- Mother or mother-in-law
- Father or father-in-law
- Child or step-child
- Legally adopted child
- Grandparent or grandparent-in-law
- Grandchild or grandchild-in-law
- Sister or sister-in-law
- Brother or brother-in-law
What Qualifies As “Abuse”?
The most obvious cases of abuse involve some physical element. But under California law, “abuse” is considered to be broader. It includes any of the following:
- Physically injuring or attempting to injure someone, intentionally or recklessly
- Sexual assault
- Placing someone in reasonable fear that they, or someone else, are about to be seriously hurt (including, for example, threats to injure or kill someone)
- Harassing or stalking someone
- Hitting someone (including kicking, pushing, or shoving)
- Pulling someone's hair
- Throwing things at someone
- Disturbing someone's peace
- Destroying someone's personal property
- Physical abuse of someone's pet
With such a broad definition, abuse can take many forms. It can be physical, verbal, emotional, or psychological. Abusers often engage in various types of manipulation to exercise control over someone or place them in fear. If you believe the behavior in question qualifies as abuse, talk to an attorney.
There are three main types of domestic violence restraining orders:
Emergency Protective Order (EPO). A judge may issue an EPO at the request of a law enforcement officer where there is an immediate danger of domestic violence, including child abuse. These are typically requested after a law enforcement officer has responded to a domestic disturbance call. EPOs are temporary, lasting up to seven calendar days. To get an order lasting longer, you must request a temporary restraining order.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). To obtain a TRO, the victim goes to court and fills out the necessary paperwork to allege domestic violence. This includes an affidavit or statement of facts. The judge may approve the order if he or she believes you need protection. The TRO will be in place until a formal hearing is scheduled.
Permanent Restraining Order. At the formal hearing, the judge may issue a permanent restraining order. These are not actually “permanent” in nature. But they can last up to five years and may be renewed.
What Can A Restraining Order Do?
Every domestic violence restraining order is different. Before obtaining one, it is best to consult an attorney to make sure the court is aware of all relevant facts in your case. The order can require that the restrained person:
- Not contact or go near you, your children, your relatives, or other people who live with you
- Not come to your home, place of work, or your children's schools
- Move out of the home
- Not possess a firearm
- Follow child custody and visitation orders
- Stay away from your pets
The order can also compel the restrained person to pay child or spousal support, and to follow orders concerning property. The restrained individual may be ordered to pay certain bills, not make changes to insurance policies, and take (or not take) other action involving family finances or property.
The effects on child custody and visitation may be the most significant. A judge who believes that a parent has been abused must consider the interests of the children. If you are a parent and have been abused, or have been falsely accused of domestic violence, you can't afford to face these accusations alone.
Restraining orders cannot grant you a divorce from your spouse or end your domestic partnership. It also cannot establish parentage of a child, unless you and the restrained person agree to enter a judgment concerning parentage.
How Can An Attorney Help Me with a Restraining Order?
A domestic violence restraining order attorney will explain which forms you need to file and will help you complete them. Your attorney will also ensure that the abuser is properly served and will prepare appropriate evidence for court. If you have been falsely accused of abuse, your attorney will also prepare your defense. Whichever side you are on, the evidence in your case could include photos, police reports, threatening communications (or communications rebutting the accusation), and witness testimony. There are certain rules that must be followed in all cases, and violating them can risk having your evidence thrown out. That's where your attorney comes in.
Contact A Los Angeles Domestic Violence and Restraining Order Attorney Today
Domestic violence accusations will have lasting effects on your freedom and your family law case. The process is difficult and stressful for both the accused and the victim, which is why you need the experience of MacKay & Martin, LLP. Call us today to discuss your case.