Domestic violence (or domestic abuse) is a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship where one partner seeks power and control over another through intimidation, coercion, violence or the threat of violence. The abuse may be emotional, mental, verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual or economic, and often becomes escalated over time.
It is important to understand that Domestic violence/abuse can happen to anyone: teenagers and adults in gay, lesbian or heterosexual relationships regardless of their marital status, ethnicity/race, national origin or socioeconomic background.
Q: How can I protect myself if my spouse or partner has become violent?
A: There are several legal and non-legal options for protecting yourself. One legal option is obtaining a domestic violence restraining order. A restraining order is a court order prohibiting someone from coming near you or contacting you in any way. A restraining order can include a move-out order requiring a party to move out of the family residence. If you have children, a restraining order can include custody, visitation and child support orders. A restraining order can also include orders regarding control of real and personal property as well as possession of animals.
Q: Is emotional or physical abuse grounds for a divorce?
A: In California, one spouse may file for divorce without a specific reason or the consent of the other spouse. If a married person wants to end their marriage, that person can do so, regardless of the reason.
Q: My spouse or partner has a history of domestic abuse. How does this effect custody?
A: When a Court determines that one party has committed domestic violence against the other party or the child (or the child’s siblings) within the past five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to the children for the perpetrator to have either sole or joint physical or legal custody. In other words, the non-violent spouse will likely have sole custody unless the person who is deemed to have committed the violence can demonstrate that it is in the children’s best interests to have joint custody.