Protecting Yourself Against Domestic Violence

Fri 4th August, 2023 Family Law

Domestic violence, or abuse from a partner, happens everywhere across this country (and across the world) every day. No abuse should be taken lightly, and if you feel you may be in danger, there are many resources designed to help and protect you. The idea of taking action to protect against an abusive partner may feel difficult to grapple with for many reasons. One insidious idea planted in some abusive relationships is that there is nothing that can be done to protect the victim against the perpetrator. Under California law, this simply is not true.

Many California divorces arise out of instances of domestic abuse or domestic violence, and many divorce cases have had to contend with issues related to domestic violence as the divorce is settled.

If your life or your marriage has been touched by domestic violence, there are tools available to you. The following are just some of the resources available to you to empower yourself and ensure the well-being of you and your family. 

Protecting Against Domestics Violence in California

The California legal system utilizes two primary forms of legal protection against Domestic Violence. If you have suffered abuse or are in an abusive or violent dynamic, you can choose to protect yourself by:

  • Obtaining an Emergency Protective Order,
  • Obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

These two items are different and serve different purposes, which are further discussed below.

Emergency Protective Order

An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) may be granted to a petitioner if the person claims that they are in immediate danger of domestic violence. This protection may be granted based on nothing more than a complainant’s allegation of recent abuse or a threat of such abuse.

This process is generally started by the complainant contacting their local police in order to file a report of domestic violence or threat of domestic violence. After this, an application will be created and filed with the local judicial office. 

How Long Do Emergency Protective Orders Last?

An EPO will go into effect immediately after it is issued. The order will last either seven calendar days or five business days, whichever timeframe is shorter. The short-lived nature of the EPO is done because the EPO is meant to be a placeholder for protection. The EPO gives complainants a window of time to pursue a more permanent solution by pursuing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. 

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A Domestic Violence Restraining Order is a Court order of protection that can last for up to three years. Each order will be tailored to prohibit specific behavior that might otherwise be taken. For example, the order might prohibit a specific person from contacting or following the applicant. Other common items are prohibiting the named person or their family members from frequenting the applicant’s workplace, prohibiting those same people from going near the applicant’s home or school, etc. 

Temporary Restraining Order

After filing a request for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, the court may choose to issue a Temporary Restraining Order, aka a TRO. The TRO is meant to serve as yet another placeholder of protection to be in place until the court can hold a hearing and decide on whether to grant the Domestic Violence Restraining Order.

Effect of the Protections

Too frequently, survivors of domestic violence do not pursue the above legal protections. Some mistakenly believe that there is nothing these court orders can do to really protect them. However, these orders do provide significant protection and can be enormously beneficial.

The U.S. is a nation that prides itself on its freedoms. This freedom allows people to take action which may not appear violent or abusive on the surface but is actually sinister. For example, it is perfectly legal and usually not threatening for a person to walk past your office building several times a day. This would not typically warrant police or court involvement. However, if the court has on record that this individual has a reported history of abusive or threatening behavior toward you, this person walking by your specific office building several times a day comes under a new light. An order of protection might be created that recognizes the threat and prohibits the named person from walking past your building.

If the person does take action that violates the protective order or restraining order, then the court can take action to pursue punishment for the violation, which could include incarceration. No such protection is likely to exist until you make a record and establish with the court that there is a problem/need for protection. 

Contact Bradley S. Sandler

Every person in an abusive relationship deserves sound legal advice to help them navigate the path to dissolution. Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler to speak with a respected divorce attorney about your case.