Roseline D. Feral

Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Law Proceedings

Child Custody Lawyer Representing People in the San Diego Area

Domestic violence takes many forms and can have serious consequences for an entire family. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a serious problem in California in recent years. Being convicted of abuse or being under a domestic violence restraining order can significantly complicate family law proceedings. If you are going through this situation, it is important to reach out to a San Diego family law attorney who can stand up for your side of the story. With nearly 30 years of experience, Roseline D. Feral understands how to carefully navigate these types of cases and protect a client’s rights.

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Law Proceedings

In California, domestic violence is defined as intentionally or recklessly causing or trying to cause a bodily injury. Some examples include physically hurting or attempting to hurt someone, sexual assault, or making someone reasonably fearful that they are going to be seriously hurt. Other behavior that could cause a court to issue a domestic violence restraining order includes harassment, stalking, threatening or hitting someone, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, or property destruction. All of this conduct is considered domestic violence when it is committed against any of the following people:

  • A current or former spouse;
  • Someone with whom the defendant resides or previously resided;
  • Someone whom they are dating or used to date;
  • Someone who has a child with the defendant;
  • The defendant’s child or children; or
  • An individual related to the defendant by blood or marriage.

People affected by domestic violence can seek a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). The details of a DVRO may vary, but, on a basic level, these protective orders generally require the alleged abuser not to engage in abusive or intimidating behavior.

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that a spouse seeking a divorce does not need to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. Instead, divorces in California are based on “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that the marriage has broken down beyond the point of repair. As a result, a DVRO does not need to serve as a basis for seeking a divorce. However, the existence of a DVRO can have some practical implications for divorce and custody hearings.

Homes shared by married couples are considered community property, so a home may be shared throughout the divorce proceeding. However, the existence of a DVRO can result in the court requiring the abusing party to vacate the house and stay elsewhere. Violating such a court order is a serious matter and could result in an arrest. It could also affect subsequent child custody rulings.

All child custody determinations are made according to what is in the “best interest of the child.” When making this decision, a court has broad discretion to consider any relevant factor. In California, there is a legal presumption that a parent who has committed domestic violence in the last five years should not be allowed to have sole or joint custody over any children. This presumption, set forth in California Family Code Section 3044, can be rebutted with sufficient evidence by the parent who has committed the alleged domestic violence. It is important to note that California courts must consider any evidence of abuse, not just of a spouse or child, but also of any child related to the abuser by blood or marriage or any child with whom the abuser has a guardianship or caretaking relationship.

Contact a Compassionate Family Law Attorney in San Diego

Domestic violence convictions, or even allegations, can have a significant impact on family law proceedings. If you have been accused of domestic violence, and your rights are at stake, you need to reach out to a lawyer without delay. We can look into the facts of your case and help protect your rights at every step of the way. Attorney Roseline D. Feral proudly assists people in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. To discuss your legal rights and options in more detail at no cost, contact us online or call us at 619-232-1010. You can also reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191.