How a Family Court DVRO Can Affect Child Custody

In California, child custody is awarded based on what the court considers to be the best interests of a child. A history of domestic violence that includes domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) can have a significant impact on a court’s decision when it comes to awarding parental custody rights. If you are involved in a custody dispute that involves domestic violence and DVROs you should speak with Orange County, CA family law attorney Micheal Marley. He will protect your rights during the child custody process and ensure your side of the story is heard by the court.

What is Domestic Violence in California?

In California, a person commits domestic violence when they abuse or threaten to abuse someone with whom they share or have shared an intimate or domestic relationship or are closely related by blood or by marriage. This can include:

  • A former or current spouse or domestic partner.
  • A close family relative, such as an elderly parent.
  • Someone with whom they’ve had a child.
  • Someone they are dating or have dated.
  • Someone they are engaged to or have been engaged to.

Under the state’s domestic violence laws, abuse is:

  • Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, either intentionally or recklessly
  • Sexual assault
  • Placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury to themselves or another person.
  • Behaviors such as harassment, stalking, disturbing someone’s peace, destroying personal property, preventing someone from freely coming or going, etc.

Domestic violence isn’t limited to physical abuse. Abuse can take many forms. It can encompass verbal (spoken), emotional, or psychological abuse as well. Abusers often use a combination of tactics to control and have power over the person being abused.

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

There are several actions a person can take to protect themselves from domestic violence. They can go to court and ask for a DVRO. A DVRO is a court order meant to protect someone from abuse or threats of abuse by someone they have a close relationship with. It can order the restrained person to:

  • Have no contact or go near their victim, their children, other relatives, or others who live with them;
  • Move out of their house;
  • Be prohibited from possessing a firearm;
  • Follow all child custody and visitation orders;
  • Pay all court-ordered spousal or partner support and/or child support;
  • Stay away from any pets;
  • Transfer the rights to their cell phone number and account to the protected person;
  • Pay certain bills;
  • Not make any changes to insurance policies;
  • Not incur large expenses or take any actions that would significantly affect the value of any community property;
  • Release or return certain property; and
  • Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.

There are four types of DVROs:

  • Emergency protective orders (can last for up to seven days)
  • Temporary restraining orders (usually last between 20 and 25 days)
  • “Permanent” restraining orders (not really permanent – they can only last for up to five years)
  • Criminal or “stay-away” protective order (remains in effect while a criminal case is in progress)

The parent of an abused child can file a restraining order on behalf of their child.

Violating a DVRO in California is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the restrained person could be sentenced to up to one year in county jail and/or pay fines of up to $1000. Causing injury or death to the victim or destroying their property could result in additional, misdemeanor or felony charges.

The Impact of a DVRO on an Orange County, CA Child Custody Case

Regarding child custody in California, judges always make their rulings based on what is in the child’s best interests. In most cases, a judge won’t award custody (joint or sole custody) to a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence or had a judge decide that they were guilty of domestic violence (such as issuing a DVRO against them) within the previous five years.

However, a judge may award sole or joint custody to a parent with a history of domestic violence, provided the parent can prove that granting them custody is in the best interest of the child and they have:

  • Not committed any further acts of domestic violence;
  • Successfully completed a 52-week batterer intervention program;
  • Successfully completed their court-ordered substance abuse counseling;
  • Followed all the terms and conditions of any restraining order(s);
  • Completed any court-ordered parenting classes; and
  • Followed all the terms of their probation or parole (if applicable).

Speak To Orange County, CA Family Law Attorney Michael Marley About Your Child Custody Case

Child custody cases can be complex, especially when domestic violence and other issues are involved. You need an experienced Orange County family law attorney by your side.

Michael Marley is a former Orange County Public Defender with extensive trial experience. This gives him an edge few other family law attorneys possess. If you want an attorney who not only knows the law but knows how to build a case, then you need to get in touch with the Marley Law Firm. You can contact us through our website or call the Marley Law Firm at (949) 726-6000 to schedule a consultation to speak with a leading Orange County, CA family law attorney.