Our office may be located in Newport Beach, California, a beautiful city with multi-million dollar homes at every turn, but that does not mean Newport Beach residents are free of domestic violence. Domestic violence is in all communities. It’s weaved into the fabric of every race, religion, and socio-economic class. It is not limited to the poor and uneducated.
In many cases, domestic violence is passed down from one generation to the next, but we cannot ignore the connection between substance abuse and domestic violence. So, what qualifies as domestic violence?
It’s More Than Physical Abuse
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), it is defined as “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.”
Under California law, domestic violence involves intimate partners, people related by blood or marriage, and household members. “The physical abuse is not just hitting. Abuse can be kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, scaring or following you, or keeping you from freely coming and going. It can even include physical abuse of the family pets,” according to the California Courts.
Protecting Your Rights in a Divorce
Experts in domestic violence know that leaving is the most dangerous time for the victim. So, if your spouse is abusing you or your children, it’s essential that you seek help before you say or do anything that can risk your safety.
If you have children, your parental rights can be protected, but you’ll want to seek legal advice so you know what to do. For example, if you get a restraining order, it can:
- Order the abuser to move out of the family home.
- Order the abuser to stay away from those protected in the order.
- Order the abuser to stay away from your children’s school (if applicable).
- Issue temporary child custody, child support, and spousal support orders.
- Order the abuser to pay certain bills.
- Order the abuser to stay away from you and your work.
- Order the abuser not to possess any firearms.
For the victim’s protection, if a restrained person violates any of the conditions in a restraining order, he or she can be arrested, fined, and jailed.
Domestic violence can impact child custody, especially if a restraining order was issued in the past three years or if the abuser was convicted of domestic violence in the past five years. If there is a finding of domestic violence, the children would typically live with the non-abusive parent, and the abuser mayreceive supervised or unsupervised visitation.
Contact the Orange County divorce attorneys at Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP if your divorce case involves domestic violence – we can help.