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Domestic Violence FAQs
What is a temporary restraining order? A domestic violence temporary restraining order, or DVTRO, is a court order that lasts a maximum of 21 days and is usually granted upon a proper Ex-Parte application (without notice to the other side). Generally these orders require the alleged perpetrator to avoid contact with the other party. The orders can include other requirements such as move out requirements, turning in firearms, custody and visitation orders and more. The orders are temporary because a hearing is required to obtain permanent orders.
How do I obtain a permanent restraining order? If the court grants a temporary restraining order, an evidentiary hearing will be set. Both parties will appear and present evidence to the court so that the judge may determine if sufficient evidence exists to justify a permanent restraining order. The court may grant such an order for up to a maximum of 5 years. This is an extremely important hearing and is handled as a trial.
If I file a domestic violence restraining order, how does the judge decide on the evidence? In order to determine domestic violence the court must review the violence or the threat of violence that occurred as well as determine whether there is a chance that future domestic violence will occur. Even if prior violence occurred, if the court determines there is no threat of future harm, the court may refuse to issue a permanent DV restraining order. This is due to the fact that domestic violence restraining orders issued in family law cases may dramatically affect a person’s right to certain civil liberties such as ownership of firearms or freedom to participate in society.
I have heard the term CLETS, what does it stand for? CLETS stands for California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System. CLETS is a police database designed to ease the enforceability of restraining orders and provide greater protection for parties who are granted restraining orders. If the court issues a domestic violence restraining order, it will be entered into the CLETS computer data base. In the event the restrained party violates the order, he or she will likely be arrested.
How does domestic violence affect spousal support? In determining spousal support, the court is required to consider domestic violence as a factor in its calculations. There is also a presumption against granting spousal support to the spouse who committed domestic violence.
Can I get child custody and visitation orders when I file a request for a restraining order? Yes. As an applicant of a DVTRO request, you may ask for temporary custody of a child(ren) involved in the case. If there is an allegation of harm to the child, the court may go so far as to make orders protecting the child from the alleged abuser.
I have been served with a Temporary Restraining Order. What do I do? Your best action is to immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Do not wait a few days to see if the other party will calm down. Your rights may be severely affected by the filing.
There is a restraining order issued against me, but I never touched her. How do I defend myself? Again, first and foremost, get expert legal advice. After all, you have a difficult road ahead of “proving a negative.” Defending domestic violence actions is difficult. It is unfortunate that there are persons out there that abuse domestic violence laws in order to gain the upper hand in custody, visitation and support disputes. If you have been wrongly accused, you will need all the support you can get to defend against these serious accusations.