In many instances in which a couple ends their romantic relationship, they have contentious disagreements. In some cases, their arguments become physical. Fortunately, the law allows victims of domestic violence to seek protective orders to prevent further harm. The courts must comply with the proper procedure prior to issuing such orders, and if they do not, such orders may be vacated. This was demonstrated recently in a California case in which the parties both sought restraining orders against one another. If you are the victim of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a skilled San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for seeking protection.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the mother and the father dated for a year, during which they had a child together. Their relationship was marked by acts of violence committed by the father and the total inability of the parties to communicate with one another effectively. After the relationship ended, they each filed requests for Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) restraining orders against the other.
Allegedly, the court held an evidentiary hearing, after which it found that both parties acted as primary aggressors against each other, and neither had acted in self-defense. Thus, the court entered mutual orders against both parties and issued an order granting joint legal and physical custody of the minor child. The mother appealed.
Protective Orders Under California Law
On appeal, the DVPA restraining order against the mother was reversed. The Court explained that, under the DVPA, restraining orders may be issued to prevent abuse or domestic violence if the party seeking the order demonstrates, to the court’s satisfaction, reasonable proof of past abuse. A court can issue mutual restraining orders, but only in certain situations. Specifically, the applicable statute makes it clear that courts should not issue mutual restraining orders unless it makes specific findings and considers both the history of domestic violence in the case before it and the intent of the law protecting victims of domestic abuse.
In part, the law requires that the court determine which party is the most significant aggressor, which requires weighing their respective acts of violence against one another. As such, they must be evaluated together and not separate as was done in the subject case. Based on the foregoing, the Court found that the trial court failed to comply with the statutory requirements prior to issuing the orders. Thus, it reversed the trial court’s DVPA restraining order against the mother.
Consult a Dedicated California Family Law Attorney
Domestic violence can cause lasting physical harm and emotional trauma, but there are steps victims of abusive behavior can take to protect themselves. If you have questions regarding domestic violence and restraining orders, it is smart to consult a lawyer. The dedicated San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact us by calling 800-769-4748 or by using the form online to set up a free and confidential consultation.