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How Can You Protect Yourself In Family Law If You’re Falsely Accused Of Domestic Violence?

While there is no doubt that domestic violence is a serious problem for victims subjected to abusive conduct and threats, domestic violence is also a problem for those who are falsely accused as a tactic to gain an advantage in a family law case. Victims of domestic violence may gain more preferential treatment when courts are deciding critical issues in divorce, such as alimony and property division, as well as issues involving children including custody and visitation rights. The desire to gain these advantages—or just to “win” in court—can prompt one partner to accuse the other of domestic violence when those accusations are not based on true facts.

If you have been accused, it is important to take the allegations seriously even if you believe they are completely false, because courts and law enforcement officials are required to treat the accusations seriously. You can best protect your rights and future opportunities by working closely with an attorney who understands the impact of domestic violence accusations and by following your attorney’s advice to the fullest extent possible.

The details of each case are unique, so it is important to get legal advice tailored to your situation. For general reference, here are some factors to keep in mind when it comes to defending yourself against domestic violence accusations in family law court.

If There’s a DVRO, Learn What You Need to Do to Comply

One of the first things to do is to find out whether a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) has been issued by the court and if so, learn exactly what you need to do to comply with the terms of the order. Regardless of whether domestic violence accusations are true or false, and even if the terms of the restraining order are not fair, you must do everything you can to avoid a violation. Your attorney may be able to work to get the terms modified, but until then, violating a DVRO just makes your situation worse.

Seemingly innocent actions, such as posting something on social media, stopping by to pick up your pajamas, or calling your child to say “goodnight” can be treated as a violation, depending on what is prohibited in the order. If you violate the terms of a DVRO, you can be charged with serious crime, even though the order was issued by a civil court. In addition to facing criminal penalties such as jail time and fines, violation of a restraining order makes the allegations of domestic violence look that much more plausible. Protect yourself by complying with the order.

Avoid Contact with Your Accuser

Even if there’s no DVRO in place, it is still wise to avoid all contact with the person who accused you of domestic violence. Do not give your accuser any ammunition to use against you. If you need to communicate, do so through your attorney so that you cannot be accused of any threatening behavior. While it is natural to want to defend yourself or explain statements or actions that were misinterpreted, remember that your attempts to explain can be taken wrongly as attempts to intimidate. Fight the urge to defend yourself and let your attorney—who has been trained in effective techniques—do the fighting strategically on your behalf.

Gather Evidence to Support Your Defense

Although you will put your attorney on the front line in the fight for your defense, you can take effective steps to help make the effort as successful as possible. The court will examine evidence to determine whether or not acts of domestic violence occurred, so you need to collect evidence to defend yourself. Preserve all prior communications such as text message, phone message, and emails involving your accuser. If they present evidence of “threatening” communication, you may be able to prove that your words were taken out of context by showing the full conversation.

Consider those who may have witnessed angry exchanges and discuss with your attorney whether to ask those individuals to serve as a witness on your behalf. Find out if anyone has video footage to support your defense, such as recordings from a security camera.

Talk to Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC if Domestic Violence Impacts Your Family Law Case

With 300+ years of collective experience in family law matters, the team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC has seen our fair share of domestic violence allegations. We assist victims who need protection, but when accusations are false, we know how to protect those who have been wrongfully accused.

Your rights are important, and you need to act promptly and effectively to protect them when allegations of domestic violence have been made against you. Contact our team today to get started on the right strategy for family law defense.

What Is a DVRO in California and How Can It Help Me?

Abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but California law offers you protection with a DVRO or a domestic violence restraining order. The courts issue DVROs to protect people against abuse or violence from a family member or significant other residing in the same household. That might include a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or the other parent of a child.  It may also include in-laws, siblings, and stepparents.

DVROs can protect you and your children from many different forms of abuse, including emotional abuse and situations where someone is blocking your access to money or basic needs or preventing you from communicating with others..

A family law attorney can assist you with obtaining a DVRO if you need one. In addition, if you have received papers indicating that someone has taken out a DVRO against you, a family law attorney can help you understand the types of conduct you must avoid to remain in compliance and avoid penalties.

How a DVRO Works

A domestic violence restraining order is designed to protect you against abusive conduct from someone you’ve had an intimate relationship with or close relatives including:

  • Siblings
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Grandparents
  • In-laws

If a person of these relationships causes or attempts to cause physical injury or sexual assault against you, a DVRO can protect you for further abuse. Also, a DVRO protects you should that person make threats of violence or abuse, or if he or she leads you to believe you’re in immediate danger. It also protects against harassment, stalking, and other ways of disturbing your peace.

The DVRO might be issued with broad terms prohibiting all contact between you and the person who has committed or threatened abuse. Or the order might contain specific prohibitions, such as ordering a spouse to move out of the home or prohibiting a family member from having firearms or ammunition.

Every domestic situation has unique dynamics, so the terms needed to protect vulnerable family members may be slightly different in each case. If you are having difficulty caused by someone who is not a family member or former partner, California courts offer other types of restraining orders that can provide protection

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

When asked about domestic violence, if a client answers with, “no, he’s never hit me or anything like that,” it’s a red flag for a family law attorney.  Many clients do not realize that abuse and domestic violence takes many forms. For example, if your spouse keeps the finances from you to create a situation of financial dependence, that can be considered a form of domestic violence because it is abuse.

Other examples of behavior that may be considered domestic violence include:

  • Accessing your email, computer or cell phone against your will
  • Keeping you from seeing friends and family
  • Restricting your movements
  • Tracking your location without consent
  • Punching holes in the wall; throws or breaks things in anger
  • Threatening physical or emotional harm if you leave or file for divorce
  • Sending harassing/threatening text messages or emails
  • Leaving threatening voicemail messages

This is not an all-encompassing list. The courts’ determination of what constitutes domestic violence is ever changing, and often expanding.  Behavior you might not consider domestic violence could very well fall within the courts’ or legislatures’ definition.

What Does a DVRO Do for You?

Depending on the nature of your case, getting a DVRO can either stop someone from acts of abuse, or it can order someone to take certain action. Commonly implemented orders connected with DVROs might:

  • Restrain an abuser from making contact with you, your children, and your property either personally or through a third party
  • Restrain an abuser from harassing, stalking or otherwise disturbing your peace
  • Order an abuser to be removed from a home that you share
  • Give you temporary child custody pending formal hearing and permanent custody after the formal hearing
  • After a formal hearing, require the abuser to pay child support and/or spousal support
  • Prohibit the abuser from possessing a firearm or ammunition
  • After a formal hearing, order that the abuser to pay fees related to acts of violence, including medical and attorney fees.

A family law attorney can meet with you to discuss your needs and present your requests to the court so that you can gain a DVRO with the right terms to provide the protection you need for yourself and others in your care.

How to Get a Temporary DVRO

Obtaining a DVRO is a multi-step process. It requires that you complete and file several forms at a California courthouse in the county where you reside. Initially, a family court judicial officer reviews the filing, and makes a decision whether or not to issue a temporary DVRO.

The restraining order forms give you a chance to explain to the court why you are experiencing fear of harm or harassment. You want to be as detailed and specific as you can about instances of abuse, using dates and times if possible. Include photos of injuries, police reports, text messages—anything you can show demonstrating threats to the safety or peace of you and/or your children. An attorney can help you gather and present evidence persuasively to demonstrate your need for a restraining order.

Should the judicial officer decide you are in immediate need of protection, a temporary restraining order can be issued within one or two business days of filing. The temporary orders create conditions that are enforceable until a DVRO hearing takes place at a later date set by the court. Until that time, the abuser must follow the rules set forth by the temporary order.

Serving Notice of a Temporary Restraining Order

You will need to make sure that the restraining order is properly served on the person being restrained. “Serving” is the legal term for delivering legal documents in a way that ensures that they are properly noticed. You cannot serve the order yourself—you must have a server deliver them for you.

A server can be any other person over the age of 18. A marshal or sheriff’s deputy will do it for free, but you must ask them. Some notices can be served by mail but in many cases they must be served in person. Your attorney can help you ensure that papers are served in a way that fulfills legal requirements.

How to Get a Permanent DVRO

Whether or not you get a temporary order, the court will schedule a hearing for a longer lasting DVRO, called a permanent DVRO, which can last up to five years. At the hearing, you and the person you are seeking the order against will have a chance to present evidence to a family court judicial officer. You will want witnesses to the domestic violence or harassment there to testify and to present any documentary evidence, such as photographs, e-mails, text messages and the like. You will have a chance to tell the judicial officer what happened and why you are fearful of continued abuse.

An attorney can help you prepare a statement for the court. You can read off notes, although it is often more effective if you use your notes for reference but speak candidly and directly to the judge. It is natural to feel nervous about the process, but working with an experienced attorney during preparation can help ease your concerns considerably.

During the hearing, the person against whom the order is sought will make their own arguments, so it is a good idea to take down notes about how you might want to respond to those arguments. This is another task your attorney can assist with, and they can present arguments on your behalf.

When Is a DVRO the Route to Pursue?

At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC when the safety for our clients and our clients’ children is at issue, we pursue DVROs. We believe safety is absolutely paramount, as is the right to live in peace. A DVRO is a powerful document for keeping you safe. However, it's a piece of paper and it's only as good as you're willing to enforce it.

We tell our clients it is important to have several copies of the restraining order made, file one with local law enforcement, and keep the remainder in a number of places:

  • One copy with you at all times
  • One copy in your vehicle
  • One copy in your home
  • One copy on file at a child’s school or care facility

Should the abuser violate the DVRO, contact local law enforcement and your attorney immediately.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Get a DVRO?

A dedicated California family law attorney can help you identify persuasive evidence, prepare it for the court, and present it in a way that is consistent with the law. Attorneys know what family law judicial officers look for with respect to making decisions about issuing a DVRO. We know how to cross examine your abuser in a manner that reveals their violation of your right to live in peace. We know how to help.

Call (855) 395-5111 Now for a Free Phone Consultation.

We pledge to serve and protect your interests through fast, effective solutions.

Domestic Violence in California Divorce and Custody

In the state of California, domestic violence isn't merely a private issue but one that has deep implications for divorce and child custody proceedings. Experiencing or witnessing violence within the confines of your home can leave lasting scars, both physically and emotionally.

When it comes to legal matters, these experiences can influence the outcome of your divorce or child custody case. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we strive to protect the interests of those subjected to domestic violence, but we also work to secure the rights of those facing unfounded violations of domestic violence. The issues are complex and delicate, so it is important to give all the facts the attention they deserve.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody Determinations

In California, nothing surpasses the importance of a child's safety and mental well-being. When the courts are presented with evidence pointing towards domestic violence, they take this into serious consideration when deliberating on custody or visitation rights.

An individual proven to be abusive might not only lose custody but also be limited to supervised visits only. This measure is designed to ensure the child's physical and psychological safety. Always remember, when it comes to child custody, the child's interests are central.

Financial Ramifications of Domestic Violence in Divorces

While the physical and emotional ramifications of domestic violence are undeniably significant, there's another dimension often overlooked: the financial implications in a divorce setting. A victim of domestic violence may receive a greater amount of alimony or spousal support.

An abusive partner may be legally bound to make restitution payments. Whether you have been subjected to domestic violence or you are being accused of domestic violence, you will benefit most if you seek comprehensive legal advice and representation from an attorney who understands how the details impact your case and how to advocate most effectively based on your specific circumstances.

Protective Measures in California Divorce Proceedings

In California, the safety and well-being of individuals are of paramount concern when domestic violence is alleged. For individuals undergoing the strain of divorce while dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence, the legal system offers protective orders. These orders, tailored to specific needs, can prohibit the abusive partner from initiating contact or can set stringent guidelines for visitation, ensuring the safety of all involved.

At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we work to ensure that protective orders provide necessary protection without overburdening either party to ensure a safer transition during the divorce process. We assist with obtaining orders and can provide advice on how to comply with terms to avoid a potential violation.

The Importance of Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases

When raising allegations of domestic violence in a divorce or child custody case in California, evidence becomes paramount. Simple allegations may serve to get a temporary protection order, but to impact a case in the long term, it is important to provide evidence such as police reports, medical records detailing injuries, or testimonies from witnesses.

Our team helps gather, preserve, and present evidence to prove or refute allegations of domestic violence. We recognize the gravity of the situation and ensure your voice is not only heard but substantiated with the right documentation.

Emotional Support and Counseling Resources

While legal guidance is indispensable in cases involving domestic violence, emotional healing and support play an equally critical role. It's essential to understand that domestic violence survivors, including children, often benefit from professional counseling to cope with the trauma and transition into healthier living circumstances.

Counseling can aid in understanding feelings, rebuilding self-esteem, and setting the foundation for a brighter, violence-free future. California offers numerous resources and support groups tailored to assist domestic violence survivors. We not only stand by our clients in the courtroom but also ensure they're aware of the holistic support available to them.

Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our focus extends beyond just legal representation. We are here to guide, support, and champion the rights of those impacted by domestic violence. Your well-being, and that of your loved ones, is our utmost priority, and we're committed to helping you embark on a fresh chapter in your life.

Navigating divorce in California, especially in the context of domestic violence, requires dedicated expertise. The Certified Family Law Specialists at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC understand the complexities and fight tenaciously to protect the rights of clients in all situations. Call us at 855-426-9111 or connect with us online to schedule a consultation to learn more about how our dedicated team can assist you through this challenging journey.

Defending Against False Accusations of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (DV) is a serious charge that carries serious consequences. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) can help you escape abusive situation and prevent further abuse in the future. If you’re on the other end of a domestic violence allegation, you are well advised to seek the help of an attorney because you may be in very serious trouble—especially if those allegations are backed by facts and evidence.

It should be noted that domestic violence extends beyond physical acts. Domestic violence encompasses harassment, stalking, threats of violence, punching walls, destroying property, and other forms of disturbing someone’s peace. All are very serious allegations that should not be pursued frivolously. However, in emotionally heated situations like a divorce or separation, and due to the many serious effects of a restraining order, vindictive individuals are compelled to try and take advantage of systems designed to protect those who are vulnerable.

Consequences of a DVRO

Consequences of DV are not to be taken lightly. A domestic violence charge hinders getting any custody and visitation with children. Victims of domestic violence have enhanced ability to get spousal support. A DV charge may affect your Second Amendment rights up to 10 years. Someone with a domestic violence charge may be required to attend a 52-week anger management course and parenting classes. In addition, you may have a Department of Justice notation together with diminished employment opportunities.

Defending Yourself Against DV Allegations

Because the effects of domestic violence restraining order are so severe, too often parties drum up false accusations of domestic violence in an attempt to gain leverage in a divorce or separation.

If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, immediately stop having contact with your accuser. Do not destroy any potential evidence, and start gathering evidence that supports your innocence. Never talk to police without an attorney present, and seek out competent counsel to defend you in family court and/or criminal court.

Every case is different, but broadly speaking, there are a few different ways to defend against false accusations of domestic violence.

  • Lack of willful intent, or showing that harm to the other person was not intentional, but rather accidental.
  • Lack of evidence, or showing that abuse never occurred.
  • Show that it’s not a relationship that qualifies for protection under domestic violence laws.
  • Show that the incident was an act of self-defense.

What Are Temporary Restraining Orders?

An initial step in establishing a domestic violence restraining order is to pursue a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the courts. To obtain a TRO, a person claiming abuse files forms at a county courthouse showing that domestic violence is taking place. A judicial officer reviews the claim, and decides whether there is sufficient reason to believe domestic violence is occurring. At that time, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) may be issued, which goes into effect once it is served on the party accused of domestic violence.

A TRO establishes rules prohibiting contact until an evidentiary hearing before a family court judicial officer, which usually occurs three weeks after issuance of the TRO. If you have a TRO served on you, you may be:

  • Ordered to leave a residence share with your accuser
  • Ordered give up custody and visitation with any children you have with your accuser
  • Ordered to pay spousal and child support immediately
  • Prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition

Until the court hears your side of the story at a DVRO hearing and decides differently, the temporary DVRO remains in place. Courts typically schedule a DVRO hearing three weeks after issuance of the TRO.

Conducting Yourself at a DVRO Hearing

If you have received a TRO, you will have a chance to respond to the accusations in a DVRO hearing. Depending on the nature of the accusation, and the judicial officers presiding over the case, you may be asked to submit a written response to the court, and/or verbally testify on your behalf.

When giving testimony in court, it is imperative to conduct yourself in a professional manner and follow these basic best practices.

  • Never, under any circumstances, lose your temper. Always keep a cool demeanor even if the opposing party tries to provoke a response from you.
  • Speak only to the question asked of you, and never offer any background narrative you might think is important. It is likely unimportant to the court, or it will lessen your credibility.
  • Do not make negative or nasty comments directed at the other side. Keep your demeanor polite and business-like.

How Does an Attorney Help You?

If you have been served a temporary restraining order, working with a competent attorney will take several actions that help you case immensely. Attorneys know how to prepare a response to a TRO in a manner that discredits false accusations of domestic violence. They are familiar with how judicial officials operate in the courts, what their concerns are, and how to collect and present evidence in line with those concerns. Having a competent attorney on your side will level the playing field for you and will afford you the opportunity to know that everything possible has been done to defend your rights.

About the Author

William A. Hinz has over 35 years if experience practicing law in California. He has specialized expertise in areas where family law and criminal law intersect, such as incidences of Domestic Violence and Contempt of Court.

Call (855) 939-9111 Now for a Free Phone Consultation.

We pledge to serve and protect your interests through fast, effective solutions.

What Is a DVRO and How Can It Help Me?

A DVRO is a domestic violence restraining order. The courts issue DVROs to protect people against abuse or violence from a family member or significant other residing in the same household. That might include a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or the other parent of a child.  It may also include in-laws, siblings, and stepparents.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Court?

by Chandra Moss

The issue of domestic violence has been at the forefront of headlines over the past few months, especially in the celebrity world. California law provides that a court may issue a protective order prohibiting an individual from "molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning . . .contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise . . . disturbing the peace of the other party." California Family Code §6320 (part of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act [DVPA]). As a result, abuse under the DVPA includes physical abuse or injury, as well as acts that "destroy the mental or emotional calm of the other party." In re Marriage of Nadkarni (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1483, 1497.

Attacking, striking and other forms of personal contact and battery are clearly acts of domestic violence under the DVPA, including Johnny Depp’s alleged throwing of a cell phone into Amber Heard’s face. What becomes a little more fuzzy are claims of mental and emotional abuse, in tandem with “controlling behavior”. California Courts, have, however, noted in In re Marriage of Nadkarni, cited above, that mental abuse is relevant in a DVPA proceeding. California Courts have ruled the following may constitute domestic violence:

  • Accessing and threatening disclosure of private emails. (Nadkarni)
  • Repeatedly contacting an ex-partner electronically after being told to stop. (Burquet v. Brumbaugh (2014) 223 Cal. App.4th 1140)
  • Downloading and disseminating text messages. (In re Marriage of Evilsizor and Sweeney (2015) 237 Cal. App.4th 1416)
  • Forcing a partner to keep a telephone line open so her activities could be monitored, threats to beat a partner, practicing marital arts in close proximity. (Rodriguez v. Menjivar (2016) 243 Cal. App.4th 816)
  • Threatening over social media. (Rodriguez v. Menjivar)

Other instances of domestic violence include financial abuse/control, punching holes in walls, throwing objects (without necessarily hitting an individual), threats of violence and the like. If you are unsure whether you are the victim of domestic violence, or if you know you are, please call our offices. We can help.

Domestic Violence: When Men Are The Victims

No one should have to put up with violence or abuse. Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone – anywhere.

Domestic violence doesn’t always refer to a woman as the victim. Even though 96 percent of the cases apply to women, the other 4 percent involves women committing domestic abuse against a man.

Statistics from the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center state that more than 800,000 men are victims of domestic violence every year – about half the rate of women. This means that there is a male victim of domestic violence every 37.8 seconds.

Even though there are many programs out there to help women, there are few for men to attend. This is strange because men are abused in the same manner as women: emotionally, verbally, financially, and even physically.

Most of the time abuse works its way into the relationship. A first time meeting may show the abuser to be charming, complimentary, and generous. However, over time, he or she may turn threatening, use abusive language, deliberately frighten the abused, and increase his or her aggressive attempts of control.

If abuse or violence is part of your everyday life, you don’t have to put up with it. Talk to a relative, friend, or professional counselor. In an emergency, call the police. In addition, you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-800-799-SAFE for help.

If you are a man being abused by a woman, don’t be embarrassed to seek legal help. Don’t wait; if you need someone to help you have a voice, and understand how to obtain a Temporary Protective Order consider the Riverside Family Law attorney from Holstrom, Block & Parke. One of our attorneys can walk you through the process of getting permanent or long-term protection.

Even though the process may be frightening and stressful,

About Dayn Holstrom

Dayn Holstrom is a hard working, compassionate problem solver who welcomes the opportunity to serve you in any way he can. His maximum availability to your questions and concerns begins with your free initial consultation. He is well-seasoned in all matters related to family law and a skilled negotiator and litigator.

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