Pakpour Banks LLP provides legal services to individuals involved in Domestic Violence disputes.

Domestic violence, or what is recently being referred to as “intimate partner violence,” is abuse perpetrated against a spouse, former spouse, or some other intimate partner. The definition also includes other categories of individuals, including children of the parties. (See California Family Code section 6211).

Abuse” can take many different forms. The primary ones include:

  • intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury;
  • sexual assault; or
  • placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another. (See California Family Code section 6203).

Depending on the circumstances involved, abuse also includes “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.” (See California Family Code section 6320(a)).

Domestic violence wreaks not just physical havoc, but emotional havoc that can affect families and family members for generations. Domestic violence by one partner against another not only injures the partner, but the children of the partners. Studies demonstrate time and time again that children exposed to even one, two, or three instances of domestic violence are more likely to face difficulties in school, commit violent crimes, enter the criminal justice system, and commit acts of violence against their own partners.

Domestic violence is not about anger management. Rather, it is about control. One party insists on controlling the other and when the abuser feels he or she does not have control, a violent outburst ensues. Such outbursts are typically followed by “honeymoon” periods, where the abuser apologizes and promises not to be violent again. The abuser may even blame the victim for inciting the attack.

Because domestic violence is about control, it is inextricably intertwined with family law. Incidents of domestic violence increase when the victim leaves the abuser. This is the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence. Handling the process of leaving an abusive relationship and obtaining court orders that will help protect you should be done carefully, with attention paid to avoiding as much conflict as possible.

In addition, the California Family Code is designed to protect children from the effects of domestic violence. Therefore, a finding that abuse has occurred will have ramifications on custody, visitation and support orders.

The remedy family courts provide is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. Restraining orders come in many different varieties. Some command only “peaceful contact,” while others command “no contact.” Victims of domestic violence should always keep in mind that a restraining order is only as valuable as the paper it’s written on. While the police must arrest the restrained party when he or she has violated it, abusers have been known to gladly violate the order with violent consequences. Therefore, it is always best to have a safety plan in place, in addition to the restraining order.