Domestic violence is a serious issue and one that, unfortunately, comes up fairly regularly in California divorce cases. Depending on the severity of the circumstances, a victim of abuse has the right to seek a domestic violence restraining order that requires the abuser to avoid all contact with the victim. As a recent case out of the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeals shows, a person who violates a DVRO not only risks criminal charges but also potentially his or her relationship with his or her children.
Husband and Wife were married in 1993 and had two sons before separating roughly 15 years later. When she filed for divorce in February 2008, Wife also sought a domestic violence restraining order against Husband and asked that it be applied to her and the two boys. In support of the order, Wife claimed that Husband had been physically and verbally abusive, that he had punched her in the arm and left bruises on one occasion in 2007, that he had choked the couple’s oldest son – lifting him off the ground in the process – on another, and that he had thrown a piece of wood at her car’s windshield while Wife and the oldest son were in the vehicle as they were driving away.
The trial Court granted the restraining order temporarily, and then for an additional three years. Although Husband sought to have limited visitation rights restored near the end of that three-year period, the trial court instead granted Wife’s request to extend the DVRO for another five years. In reaching this decision, the court noted that Husband had repeatedly violated the restraining order, including by sending “abusive” letters to Wife, trying to contact one of the boys’ teachers, and showing up at their baseball games. Although the court had previously authorized Husband to have monitored visits with the boys, overseen by his therapist, the kids told the therapist that they were afraid of their father and didn’t want to have the visits, according to the court.
Affirming the decision on appeal, the Sixth District said there was “abundant” evidence for the trial court to find that Wife feared future abuse and was therefore entitled to have the restraining order extended. Most of that evidence concerned Husband’s violations of the previous DVROs. “After [Wife] obtained a temporary DVRO, [Husband] repeatedly violated both it and the three-year DVRO,” the Court said. “His refusal to comply with previous restraining orders strongly supported a finding that he would continue to engage in threatening or harassing conduct if not restrained.”
Although Husband had since moved to another city, the Court said he didn’t present any evidence showing that he “had moved on with his life to the extent that there was no longer a significant risk of future abuse.” Instead, the Court noted that he’d violated the DVRO as late as the last year in which it was set to expire.
If you’re considering grappling with domestic violence issues in California, contact San Jose domestic violence lawyer John S. Yohanan. With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Yohanan is an accomplished family law attorney who has helped a number of clients resolve a wide variety of marital disputes. Call our office at (408) 297-0700 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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