Are You A Victim of Domestic Violence?

The family law attorney team at Naimish & Lewis recently attended a continuing legal education seminar to learn more on how domestic violence can impact child custody proceedings. This blog post provides a general overview on domestic violence and new gun related laws for individuals convicted of domestic violence. 

Domestic violence often becomes a reason for divorce. However, domestic violence is not limited to married couples. It also applies to former spouses; cohabitants or former cohabitants in a home, which generally means a person who regularly resides or used to regularly reside in the household; a parent with whom the individual has a child; or a partner in a dating or engagement relationship, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Misconceptions and Myths Surrounding Domestic Violence

There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding domestic violence. Many of our fellow Californians believe that they have to be physically hit or show bruising in order to be considered a victim of domestic violence. This is a dangerous misunderstanding and far from the truth.

The definition of “abuse” included in California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act (the “DVPA”) is purposely broad in scope and encompasses a wide range of acts or behavior. Physical and sexual assault, stalking, online bullying and harassment, psychological and financial abuse, even unwanted texting and emailing, as well as other actions or behavior may all be considered “abuse” under the DVPA. Therefore, abuse is not only physically hitting or injuring a person. Because California’s definition of abuse is intentionally broad, it leaves room for interpretation and must be applied by the Court to the specific facts in each case.

Another common misconception is that abuse has to reach a certain level to legally qualify as such. This too, is untrue. As discussed above, domestic violence encompasses a wide range of acts or behavior and is not limited to physical acts of violence. There are circumstances where the victims of domestic violence may be unsure whether they actually suffered abuse or not. Often times it is very difficult for the victim to leave the abuser because of emotional or financial dependence. As we learned during the seminar, domestic violence is a very complex area, both psychologically and legally.

What can be done to protect victims of domestic violence?

The Family Law Court can issue orders to stop the abusive acts, which are known as restraining orders. While these orders are a form of legal restraint and do not physically prevent the restrained person from continuing the abuse, such orders provide the possibility for the protected party to seek assistance from law enforcement if an order is violated and can result in criminal charges being brought for a violation of the order. 

If any person is found guilty of domestic violence, that person has to relinquish any firearms and ammunition. New laws that became effective on January 1, 2018, require individuals convicted of firearm-prohibiting crimes, including domestic violence offenses, to provide proof that they sold or transferred their firearms within specified timeframes after conviction.

There are serious implications and legal consequences when it comes to domestic violence and child custody issues. Each individual situation requires a case-by-case analysis of its specific facts and circumstances. [Disclaimer]

Our family law team at Naimish & Lewis can advise you on questions related to domestic violence as well as other issues involving dissolution and divorce. To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney at our firm, please contact us.