There may come a time when you are faced with emotional or physical abuse from someone you have or had a relationship with, or a relative, and you want to seek protection from the courts. This abuse is called Domestic Violence and can be both a civil matter and a criminal matter. In San Diego County there are many options for you to seek such help, including seeking restraining orders for you and other household members.
As in other counties in California, San Diego has resources you can contact to help you in a domestic violence case. Some resources can offer fast help for domestic violence victims in crisis, while others will provide a more long term plan. These resources include:
- The Courts;
- Law enforcement;
- Shelters and hotlines;
- The Secretary of State safe-at-home program, which provides you with an alternate mailing address to receive official documents, for your driver’s license, and other records, for up to four years;
- Counseling programs.
Some domestic violence situations require that you distance yourself from your abuser. Especially in the face of COVID-19, escaping domestic violence is rarely as simple as going to stay with friends for a while. Leaving an abusive relationship often takes preparation. Having some money and a “go bag” ready can make it easier to get away from an abusive situation and to access the many resources for domestic violence victims.
A dedicated family law and divorce attorney can help you legally enforce your separation from an abusive partner. If you seek and obtain a domestic violence restraining order, otherwise known as a protective order, in Family Court this order is issued the first time anywhere from six months up to five years and can be renewed at the end of this time for an indefinite period. In other words, if you still fear for your safety even after a restraining order has been in place for quite some time, you could potentially receive an order of protection that lasts the rest of your life.
A restraining order will prevent the abusive party from doing some or all of the following:
- Contacting you in person, by mail, by phone, text, email, or through other persons;
- Following you, stalking, harassing, threatening;
- All physical contact;
- Stay away orders to keep the other person from your home, car, place of work, places of worship, gyms, and possibly the school and daycare of your children;
- Keeping any firearms and ammunition.
There are also criminal court protective orders that issue if a crime has been committed by the abusive person, such as assault, battery, harassment, stalking, and the like. Often these sorts of orders are issued when an arrest is made and initially are known as Emergency Protective Orders that can last five to seven days, during which time you should be able to get a temporary restraining order through the Family Court. The criminal court orders that issue after an arraignment will last throughout the criminal proceeding and have priority over the family court orders.
Domestic violence in marriage is, unfortunately, common. When you are concerned for your safety because of the actions of another person against you, it is a good idea to reach out to the resources provided here for guidance and support. An experienced family law attorney can give you advice and help you through this difficult time. We here at JWB Family Law have the legal knowledge and skills you need to make the tough decisions but you won’t have to be alone with us behind you.
The Importance of the CFLS Designation
A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriage, child and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.
Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.