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Domestic violence is widespread in Los Angeles. This offense takes a serious toll on families and can significantly impact the outcome of a family law case involving child custody and visitation or property division.
If you need guidance and compassionate legal counsel to see you through an abusive divorce, custody, or protective order matter in Los Angeles or if you were falsely accused of domestic violence, the Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys at Fernandez & Karney want to help.
At Fernandez & Karney, our domestic violence attorneys are:
- Knowledgeable in all areas of domestic abuse law, including the new Covid-19 provisions
- Skilled and successful in domestic violence hearings and trial litigation
- Aggressive and determined when asserting our clients’ legal rights to their safety, property, and children
Domestic violence cases require immediate action. Call the Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers at Fernandez & Karney today.
Our Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorneys Can Help
At Fernandez & Karney, our domestic abuse attorneys will work tirelessly to build and present your case in Los Angeles. We want a positive outcome for you and your loved ones, whether you are asserting or defending a domestic violence charge.
The domestic violence attorneys at Fernandez & Karney will also:
- Ensure you understand California’s domestic violence laws and how they apply to your circumstances
- Answer your questions promptly and keep you updated as your case progresses
- Stand beside you throughout your entire legal case
- Connect you with required resources in the community, such as counseling services and victim outreach
- Offer honest, practical legal advice throughout your case
Reach out to Fernandez & Karney to schedule a confidential consultation regarding your case. Our Los Angeles family law lawyers will listen to you and provide you with information about the best legal steps to take moving forward.
What is Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence in California is abuse committed against an intimate partner. Abuse is defined as the intentional or reckless use or threat of physical force against an intimate partner.
Who Can be a Victim of Domestic Violence in California?
California domestic violence applies to any intimate partner.
An intimate partner may be any of the following:
- A current or former spouse
- A current or former registered domestic partner
- A current or former fiancé(e)
- A current or former live-in romantic partner
- A person with whom the accused has, or has had, a child
- Someone the accused is seriously dating or was in a dating relationship with in the past
OR in custody disputes one of the below:
- The defendant’s child
- Any other person related to the defendant by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage) within the second degree, including:
- Brothers and sisters
- Half-brothers and half-sisters
- Step-brothers and step-sisters
- Aunts and uncles
- Nephews and nieces
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act
According to California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act (California Family Code § 6200 et seq.), domestic violence charges cover a wide range of abuse, including spousal abuse and child endangerment. Any threatening or violent act, even if the accused did not intend to harm or compromise the safety and security of the victim, could be grounds for prosecution under California’s domestic violence laws.
Examples of domestic violence abuse may include:
- Annoying Phone Calls
- Stalking (such as following the victim to and from work and threatening the victim)
- Physical Assault or abuse (hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving, or kicking)
- Verbal, social, and sexual abuse
What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
A domestic violence restraining order is a court order issued in a domestic violence case. t demands that the defendant refrains from harming, threatening, or harassing the protected person. Any violation of the order can lead to criminal charges such as a misdemeanor charge and up to one year in county jail.
The provisions of restraining orders vary; however, all orders prevent the defendant from having any contact with the protected person.
“Contact” may include:
- Personal contact
- Phone calls
- Text messages and e-mails
- Any surveillance
- Interaction on social networking sites
An order may also require the defendant:
- Surrender possession of a gun
- Pay child support
- Pay spousal or partner support
- Pay certain bills
- Not make any changes to insurance policies
- Release or return particular property
- Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program
Domestic violence restraining orders may:
- Limit where a defendant can go
- Require moving out of the marital home
- Limit interaction with a defendant’s children
- Affect a defendant’s immigration status
Proof Required for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
The intimate partner seeking a domestic violence restraining order does not have to show they suffered bodily harm.
Instead, they need to prove the following:
- Someone has abused or threatened to abuse them or their minor child
- The alleged abuser is an intimate partner or a first- or second-degree relative
Violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
Three elements must be proven before a defendant can be convicted of violating a domestic violence restraining order.
They are as follows:
- There was judge-issued a legal protective order
- The defendant knew about the order
- The defendant intentionally violated that order
This offense is typically a misdemeanor punishable by:
- Imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year
- A fine of up to $1,000
There are situations where the violation of a domestic violence restraining order is a felony charge. A felony is punishable by:
- Imprisonment in state prison for up to three years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Termination of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
Termination of a domestic violence restraining order may be by an automatic dismissal date or by request in writing.
Otherwise, there must be a showing that:
- There has been a material change in the facts upon which the order was granted
- The law upon which the order was granted has changed
- The ends of justice would be served by termination of the order
A hearing may be required for dismissal.
Domestic Violence and Divorce
California is a no-fault divorce state. However, a domestic violence conviction can affect certain aspects of a divorce. This includes the division of assets.
For instance, it is presumed that a spouse convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse within the past five years should not receive a spousal support award. This is a “rebuttable” presumption meaning the convicted spouse is allowed to present evidence in their defense.
If a judge finds that domestic violence had an adverse economic impact on a spouse, resulting in an unreasonable depletion of marital assets, then the victim spouse might be awarded more of the marital assets.
Accusations of Domestic Violence in Family Court
New protections are being phased into family law situations to protect victims of domestic violence. However, it can still be risky to present claims of domestic violence in family court with no criminal case documentation to back them up.
Often when a victim of domestic violence voices their claims in family court, there are counterattacks. This can leave an unprepared victim feeling frightened and vulnerable, left to argue their differences with the opposing side.
Therefore, if a victim chooses to assert their domestic violence claim in family court, it is vital to provide corroborating evidence of domestic violence to the court.
This may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Prior police reports involving the abuser
- A case history involving domestic violence
- Photos of the victim’s injuries
- Videos of threats or violent behavior by the abuser
- Threatening text messages from the abuser
- Eyewitnesses who can testify to the abuser’s violent or threatening behavior
- Sworn eyewitness affidavits regarding the abuser’s violent or threatening behavior
In any situation involving domestic violence, making a safe transition requires keeping careful records of each incident of domestic violence which occurs. These records are an invaluable resource for a family court judge when deciding as to orders of protection for a spouse and any children of a marriage.
Domestic Violence Findings and Child Custody
A family court finding of domestic violence can profoundly affect child custody for years as there is a presumption that an abusive parent should not receive joint or sole legal or physical custody of the child. The court may not make findings of domestic violence solely on the recommendation of the Family Court Services staff or a child custody evaluator; rather, it must consider any “relevant, admissible evidence” submitted by both parties.
A parent who the court believes committed an act or acts of domestic violence may still be able to be awarded some form of custody if the parent has:
- Completed a treatment program that met the criteria set forth by the California penal code
- Complied with any terms of probation or parole
- Completed a parenting class
- Completed a drug or alcohol program, if applicable
- Complied with any issued restraining order
- If it is deemed to be in the best interests of the children for the parent to be awarded some level of custody
So long as a parent has not abused the children, they are likely to be granted visitation rights. Depending on the situation, visitation may be supervised, and the drop-off and pick-up site may be a neutral or public place.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney Today
If you are a victim of domestic violence or were falsely accused of domestic violence, contact Fernandez & Karney as soon as possible. We will start planning your case today by learning about your situation and gathering the necessary facts.
When you retain Fernandez & Karney, you have a team of experienced Los Angeles divorce attorneys, forensic accountants, investigators, and highly-skilled support staff working to resolve your case. For more information on our domestic violence legal services, schedule your complimentary consultation today.