Domestic violence is abuse, or threatened abuse, when the person being abused and the abuser are in an intimate relationship, or have been in the past. Such relationships include marriage or domestic partnership, dating relationships, living together, having a child together, or being closely related by blood or marriage. Domestic violence can include intentionally or recklessly hurting someone, sexual assault, putting someone in fear for their safety or the safety of loved ones or pets, or harassment and stalking.
Bear in mind that "abuse" is not only physical. It can be verbal, emotional, or psychological. Abuse is about control and power, so abusers often try to limit their victims' freedom to come and go as they please, their financial resources, and their relationships with family and friends.
California offers legal help and protection for victims of domestic violence. You are eligible for a domestic violence restraining order if you have a close relationship with someone and that person has abused or threatened to abuse you. Domestic violence restraining orders may be issued on an emergency basis, or may be temporary or permanent (long-term) in nature. Parents whose children are being abused can file for a domestic violence restraining order on behalf of their children.
A restraining order can order your abuser to not contact or go near you, your children, your pets, or relatives or people who live with you; stay away from your home, work, and children's schools; move out of your home if you live together; pay bills, child support, and other financial obligations; return property taken from you; and to not possess any firearms.
If you are not eligible for a domestic violence restraining order, there are other types of help available, including civil harassment restraining orders, elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders, and workplace violence restraining orders. At Shaffer & Associates, we have worked with many women and men who have experienced abuse, and we can help you determine what type of protective order would be best for you.
As family law attorneys, we know how domestic violence can complicate a California divorce or child custody case. If you are involved in a family law case with your abuser, domestic abuse will have an impact on the outcome of that case. Shaffer & Associates can make sure that the court understands the nature of the abuse and how it should impact the court's decision.
The California legislature has stated that it is not in a child's best interests to be exposed to domestic violence. Therefore, courts deciding custody matters must consider a history of abuse by a parent, whether directed at a child, the other parent, or another person in a close relationship with the abuser. A judge may consider not only testimony, but other evidence that substantiates allegations of abuse, such as police reports or records from social service agencies.
If the court determines an abusive party has committed domestic violence against the other parent, the child, or the child’s siblings within the previous five years, the judge must apply a presumption that the abusive parent should not be awarded physical custody or even joint custody of the children. The abusive parent may be able to overcome this presumption with evidence that it would be in the child's best interests for him or her to have custody.
With regard to parenting time, California courts are required to grant visitation to a parent unless there is evidence that it would not be in a child's best interests. When domestic violence has occurred, a court may choose to order supervised visitation or in some cases, withhold visitation altogether.
At Shaffer & Associates, we understand how difficult your situation is. You can rely on us to listen to you, inform you, support you, and advocate for you and your children.
The San Diego attorneys of Shaffer & Associates represent clients in California domestic violence matters in San Diego County and the surrounding communities, including Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County. Contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to discuss how we can help you.