Domestic Violence is defined in the California Family Code, it defines what abuse is, who can be a victim, what the court can do to prevent ongoing abuse and how the court can prevent child abuse.

California Divorce Attorneys look to the Family Code to provide the rules on Domestic Violence, sometimes called Domestic Abuse, Spousal Abuse, Partner Abuse, Domestic Battery or Spousal Battery – they are all the same thing though in the Family Code for a Divorce Lawyer.

The California Family code defines a Domestic Violence Victim at section 6211 this way:

“Domestic violence” is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:
(a) A spouse or former spouse.
(b) A cohabitant, as defined in Section 6209.
(c) A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.
(d) A personwith whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent under the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3(commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12).
(e) A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an actionunder the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected.
(f) Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree.

With all the different definitions and people that can be victims of Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse, if you have been served with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County or throughout the state of California, you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney to protect your rights. Experienced divorce lawyers know the law, and the defenses to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, and can help you though what is sure to be a difficult and trying time.

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California Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Published on 30 December 2011 by in blog

In California, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders can be issued upon one person telling the court in writing that another person, someone they are married to, dating or living with, has committed Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse. The restrained person needs to hire a Divorce Lawyer, also known as a Divorce Attorney, as soon as possible. When hiring a Divorce Attorney they need to know how to deal with the Domestic Violence Restraining Orders that are issued under Family Code Section 6320:

California Family Code Section 6320. (a) The court may issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, making annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m of the Penal Code, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members.
(b) On a showing of good cause, the court may include in a protective order a grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent. The court may order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring,
encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal.

The types of restraining orders are issued in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County and throughout the state on a regular basis. When any court issues a Temporary Restraining Order against someone for Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse, they must set a hearing within 21 days to hear evidence of whether or not to make it a permanent order, which means it can stay in effect up to 5 years.

Domestic Battery, Domestic Abuse, Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence are all terms for the same thing in California. We have represented both men and women in courts from San Diego County to Nevada County, we are experienced attorneys who have defended people in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County and Santa Barbara County.

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California Domestic Violence Defined

Published on 30 December 2011 by in blog

California has defined Domestic Violence, which is sometimes referred to as Domestic Abuse, Spousal Abuse, Partner Abuse, Spousal Battery and Domestic Battery, in the Family Code at Section 6203 – Abuse:

For purposes of this act, “abuse” means any of the following:
(a) Intentionally or recklessly to cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.
(b) Sexual Assault.
(c) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
(d) To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Section 6320.

The definition of domestic violence or domestic abuse is therefore quite expansive and covers a wide range of behaviors. As a result, the allegations of spousal abuse or spousal battery, are very easy to make. Because all that is needed is the “I was afraid … ” statement and most courts in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Santa Barbara Counties, and probably all the other counties of California, will issue a Temporary Restraining Order.

The long term effects of a Restraining Order mean that anyone who is faced with one, needs to have legal representation to fight the civil allegations of Domestic Violence and Domestic Battery.

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Parental Alienation – The Molester Charge

Published on 24 December 2011 by in blog

I’ve been representing parents in child custody cases throughout the six southern California counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Diego since 1998, and I have learned that in most Parental Alienation cases, sooner or later, usually sooner, the alienated parent is accused of being a child molester.

The impact that this has on the accused parent and on the alleged victim child is devastating. It causes a rift that takes years of therapy and work to rebuild. The damage that is done emotionally between the parents is frequently irreversible. The false accuser can never be trusted again.

The financial devastation is horrendous. Accused parents liquidate funds they set aside for children’s college funds to defend themselves with criminal defense lawyers and family law attorneys who labor to prove innocence – which is an extremely difficult thing to do.

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Psychotherapists are mandated reporters in California, which means that if they suspect child abuse is happening they have to report it to the local child protective services. In Los Angeles County that is the Department of Child and Family Services (http://dcfs.co.la.ca.us/)

A common trick for those parents who are setting up the other parent is to make some comment to a therapist, or have the child make some comment, in the therapeutic environment that will trigger this mandated reporting. The Targeted Parent is then the subject of an investigation, and the DCFS orders the “safe parent” to get a restraining order to “protect the child” from the abusive parent.

This allows the Alienating Parent to use that old standby defense of “they made me do it… I wouldn’t have but I had no choice.” So now the Target Parent has to defend themselves against false allegations of child abuse, and has been kept away from their child for a minimum of 3 weeks. This has the added benefit for the Alienating Parent of being able to say in all future declarations that they “had to get a restraining order to protect my child” which makes them look good and the Target Parent look bad.

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Child Custody cases where the parties are fighting over the Legal Custody or Physical Custody, or both, of the child or children will always show the true colors of the parties. The heat of battle burns off the facades and the true character of the parents is what is left.

Frequently in Parental Alienation cases, where the alienator has a personality disorder such as Narcissistic or Borderline Personality Disorder what becomes apparent is that they view the child as their property. They are not really interested in the well-being of the child so much as they are interested in feeling that they have ownership of the children.

This became apparent in a case we recently handled in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The alienating parent used language that indicated they felt they owned the child outright. This became apparent in their language. In the way they spoke and wrote of the children in their declarations.

This sense of ownership is what allows them to believe that they are “saving” the child from the other parent. Because they feel that the children are owned, they are incapable of making the leap to shared parenting and that the children could find any benefit in having a relationship with the Targeted Parent.

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In California, beginning in 2012, children over the age of 14 may be heard by the court if the judge decides that it will be helpful. Most of the judges that I have heard speak on the subject are going to be very cautious about allowing children into the courtroom, whether it is in Van Nuys, Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, Torrance or any of the other district courts of the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County.

The Judges are very concerned about the long-term effects of testifying against or for, either parent.

But that doesn’t mean that a parent can’t get a judge to hear the child. The emails that they send to an alienated parent can be admitted if a proper foundation is laid. The same goes for the Instant Messages they send, along with the text messages. Those statements can be used, especially if they are favorable to the targeted parent or are indicative of manipulation by the alienating parent.

Target Parents in a Parental Alienation case have to be resourceful and creative, they have to think in ways they are not used to thinking, but they can prevail in court if they are determined.

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Child Custody cases frequently come down to a She Said/He Said battle for the judges in the Superior Courts of Los Angeles County. They have to read dueling declarations, and listen to long winded testimony about why the other parent is negligent, deficient, abusive or incompetent.

One has to wonder as the judges in courts like Van Nuys or Santa Monica sit there if they aren’t asking themselves if these people were EVER good parents? Which when those family videos you took can become like gold.

The family video of last year’s birthday party when Mom said that Dad was “the Greatest Father ever” can and should be used in court to show the judge that there was a time Dad was considered a good father.

The Christmas video of Mom helping the kids put together some new toy where Dad tells her she’s “the best mom” can be used to counter allegations of incompetence.

The point is that the videos have admissions by the Alienating Parent about the Targeted Parent that can be used to attack credibility. In Family Court, whether you are in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange or San Diego County credibility is the key that unlocks the judge’s opinion.

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The “missed opportunity” is the tool of choice for the Alienating Parent. They will find all types of excuses to not show up, to have the child be somewhere else besides where they are supposed to be for a scheduled visit, and they will have a manufactured excuse as to what happened.

The Target Parent must prevent the Missed Opportunity by being overly clear and repetitive about what the plans are, so that the Alienating Parent has fewer and fewer escape routes.

Letters and emails should be faxed, emailed and posted with Return Receipt and/or delivery confirmation about every major and minor event. Every Holiday, school vacation or performance needs to be documented well in advance and clear statements about the Target Parent attending need to be made manifest.

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Every child custody order that we prepare in our Santa Monica Office has language that refers to the parties not using derogatory language about the other parent with the child. The extension of that is both parents have a duty to make sure that the child has relationship with the other parent. If a child is supposedly independently not talking to a parent, then both parents have a duty to help reconcile that relationship.

Remind the alienating parent daily to help with keeping the relationship close. When they fail to do so, we can use that in court to prove that they are not doing their part to act in the best interests of the child.

Make sure to keep a track record of efforts made, such as email and phone call attempts, both of which should be cataloged and indexed.

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