We have discussed the issue of domestic violence and domestic violence restraining orders in many different contexts on our blog before. In this post, we will discuss an issue that just about every party with a restraining order faces: how to renew his or her restraining order.
In order to obtain a domestic violence restraining order in the first place, the abused party needs to show that it was more likely than not that he or she suffered abuse at the hands of the other party. This is set forth in the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, which can be found in California Family Code section 6200 et. seq. Domestic violence restraining order requests are usually presented to the judge in the form of a trial, with live witness testimony. After the conclusion of the trial, the judge assesses the evidence and the credibility of the witness testimony and either grants or denies the request for a restraining order. If the Court grants the request, it may make an order lasting up to 5 years. On a renewal, an abused party can ask the Court for the restraining order to be renewed permanently.
Although the process of obtaining a restraining order can be somewhat arduous depending on the circumstances, it is significantly less difficult to obtain a renewal of a restraining order in California. In fact, Family Code section 6345 provides that such an order may be renewed “without a showing of any further abuse since the issuance of the original order.” The only required showing is a reasonable fear of future abuse. In Ritchie v. Conrad, the Court, in reversing a trial court’s denial of a renewal request, cleared up some misconceptions about the process: “So there should be no misunderstanding, this does not mean the court must find it is more likely than not future abuse will occur if the protective order is not renewed. It only means the evidence demonstrates it is more probable than not there is a sufficient risk of future abuse to find the protected party’s apprehension is genuine and reasonable.” Perhaps most importantly, the Court noted that the mere existence of the initial order is a significant factor and held “that the underlying findings and facts supporting that order often will be enough in themselves to provide the necessary proof to satisfy that test.” Not surprisingly, most requests for a renewal of a restraining order are granted though they are by no means automatic, especially if the judge is unaware of the finer parts of the relevant law.
Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding domestic violence restraining orders. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.