What Is Domestic Violence?
Contrary to what too many people believe, domestic violence is not limited to situations involving physical assault. In California domestic violence is the 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 against another. It includes physical, psychological, emotional and financial manipulation, control and abuse. It can occur between married couples, unmarried partners who live together as well as former partners.
How Does Family Violence Impact Family Law?
Although California is a no-fault divorce state, domestic violence may be a big factor for the court in determining spousal support, child custody and/or visitation rights. For instance, courts generally do not award sole or joint custody to a parent who has been found to have committed domestic abuse because such an arrangement is presumptively not in the best interests of the child or children.
However, a court may give custody to a parent who has committed domestic violence custody under certain circumstances, including but not limited to:
It finds that such custody is in the child’s best interests;
The parent has completed a 52-week batterer’s program;
The parent has not committed any further domestic violence;
The parent has obeyed all court orders to complete a drug or alcohol abuse program or a parenting class, and followed all terms of probation, parole, or a restraining order.
Because of the big potential impact domestic violence may have on a family law case, it is important to have counsel skilled at presenting evidence in court representing you.