The Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis, the presiding judge of the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court describes Domestic Violence this way: All violence is abuse, but not all abuse is violent. By this, he intends to convey that there are ways by which a person’s sense of peace and tranquility is disturbed that do not look like physical battery or assault. Sending frequent and unwanted text messages or emails or threatening to reveal or actually revealing intimate details about a person is domestic abuse and if it is conduct that can be restrained it is subject to orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
Not all persons are permitted to file an action in family court under the DVPA. You must be married to or a close relative of the accused (up to 2nd degree of consanguinity and affinity), or currently or formerly in a dating relationship, or the parents or a child. If there is abuse or violence, there should be consideration as to whether other members of the household, including pets, can be or should be protected parties.
When temporary restraining order is issued, or denied, it is set for hearing within 21 days. The order must be personally served on the opposing party. Many times, if children are listed as members of the household, the court will issue temporary orders for legal and physical custody to the alleged victim pending the hearing on the merits of the allegations.
At the hearing, the court will take evidence and possibly hear from witnesses regarding the domestic abuse. If it appears more likely than not that abuse occurred and caused the victim reasonable fear and apprehension, then a permanent restraining order will likely be issued. A presumption arises when a party is found to have committed domestic violence, which is that the party should not be awarded sole or joint legal custody nor physical custody unless the presumption is overcome by evidence.
Domestic Violence cases are on the rise in California and the appellate courts has weighed in on more of these cases in the last five years than they have in the last ten years.
Contact Attorney Rizzo to discuss your DV matter. As a victim will need to know how to best protect yourself and your children going forward. As an accused party, you should be aware that there are significant consequences when DV restraining orders are issued for one year, three years or five years.