Domestic Violence and Divorce in California

Domestic Violence and Divorce in California

Domestic Violence and Divorce in California

Domestic violence is a serious accusation and situation. Unfortunately, domestic violence-related divorce is not an unfamiliar occurrence, which is why courts are prepared to address the issue in divorce proceedings. The challenging process of divorce becomes all the more difficult when domestic violence is involved. It is critical to have a divorce lawyer who is up to the task of working through this process in this situation. It requires not just skill and experience but also the ability to tactfully handle such a sensitive situation.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be but does not have to be, physical in nature. It is any harm, harassing, or threatening of someone who is either a domestic partner, in an intimate relationship with the accused, in a dating relationship with the accused, shares a child with the accused, or is a household member. It could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Convictions, and even accusations, of domestic violence can have a significant impact on divorce proceedings.

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Divorce

A domestic violence conviction can affect especially the custody and spousal support elements of the divorce process. In the case of custody, the court is required to do what is right for the welfare of the child. This might still mean allowing custody for someone convicted of domestic violence, but the judge must consider the nature of the domestic violence and its effect on the child. The convicted must be able to show why it is better for the child that they not lose custody.

In terms of spousal support, a conviction of a felony guarantees not receiving spousal support, and those convicted of a misdemeanor are also, more often than not, ineligible to receive spousal support, with rare exceptions. If the convicted is due to pay spousal support, it could result in a larger payment.

Protection Against the Abuser

Protection against domestic violence is often done through a restraining order which requires the accused to have no contact with the victim. Violation of these orders can have serious consequences. The restraining orders could last just a few days or up to five years.

False Allegations

False allegations of domestic violence also carry significant consequences and could negatively impact a spouse’s custody rights or spousal support as well.

Domestic Violence in California Family Law


Q: How Will Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody in California?

A: The effects of domestic violence on divorce and child custody will be unique to each case. The court will consider things like the nature of the abuse, the likelihood of it occurring again, and the effect on the child. The court’s primary job in a child custody case is to do what is in the child’s interest. So, for the parent who has committed domestic violence, they must make a case of why it is better for the child for the parent to have custody. The court may still grant joint legal and physical custody in some cases where domestic violence has been an issue, but again, that will only happen if there is a strong case for it being in the interest of the child.

Q: How Do I Get Legal Protection From a Domestic Abuser in California?

A: The primary legal means of protection from an abuser is a restraining order. California has three levels of restraining orders:

  • An Emergency Restraining Order – lasts up to 7 days
  • A Temporary Restraining Order – lasts 20-25 days
  • A Permanent Domestic Violence Restraining Order – lasts up to 5 years

The specifics of what each restraining order requires will differ based on the specifics of each case. However, in all cases, contact, which includes texts, e-mails, or social network contact, is prohibited. It will likely additionally include a restriction against the possession of firearms, a requirement to attend training, and a requirement to pay some level of child and spousal support. Violation of the restraining order can negatively impact any divorce proceedings and also have significant legal consequences.

Q: Will Domestic Violence Affect Spousal Support in California?

A: Domestic violence may be taken into consideration in terms of spousal support awarded if the victim was to receive support. However, the law is much clearer if the abuser is to receive support. If there is a conviction of felony domestic violence, the convicted are barred from receiving any form of spousal support. If there is a conviction of a misdemeanor domestic violence, the convicted has a presumption against spousal support. However, this presumption is rebuttable, which means if the convicted can make an argument as to why they should still receive spousal support (for instance, if both parties were convicted), they may still receive support at the court’s discretion.

Q: What If I Am Wrongfully Accused of Domestic Violence?

A: It’s unfortunate, but false accusations do occur. The most important thing to do if this happens to you is to maintain composure. It can be infuriating to be wrongfully accused, but any reaction demonstrating that frustration could be used against you. The most important thing you can do for yourself is remain calm and use your right to silence until you have an attorney. From there, the only option you have is to adhere to any restraining orders and allow the legal process to play out. Anything you do outside of that process could significantly hurt you. So, it’s smartest to work with a lawyer you trust, and trust that the process will see to your acquittal.

Get Help Working Through A Divorce Involving Domestic Violence

Domestic violence accusations or convictions can take the already difficult process of divorce and level it up significantly. One of the most important things you can have in those cases is a knowledgeable, experienced legal team. In such a delicate situation, you want representation that understands the nuances involved with domestic violence and how it will impact the divorce proceedings. You need a team that you can trust to represent your interests while keeping you informed of the process. If you need help with a divorce involving domestic violence, then contact the team at Bickford Blado & Botros today.



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