Domestic Violence – It’s Complicated


If you’re wondering if you can get a restraining order against your spouse or partner; let’s start with some information regarding domestic violence. This is codified in California in Family Code §6200 (and subsequent sections) and is commonly called the


Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA).



Family Code §6203 defines abuse as:


(a) Intentionally or recklessly to cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.

(b) Sexual assault.

(c) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.

(d) To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Section 6320. (Detailed below.)



There are certain criteria that must be met before a domestic violence restraining order can issue. According to California Family Code § 6211 “Domestic violence” is defined as abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:


(a) A spouse or former spouse.

(b) A cohabitant or former cohabitant, as defined in Section 6209.

(c) A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.

(d) A person with whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent under the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12).

(e) A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected.

(f) Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree.

Restraining Order


If you’re also concerned about your spouse or partner’s behavior towards your children, the kids could also be protected under any restraining order issued.


Restraining orders aren’t contingent solely upon physical abuse or violence. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional or psychological “abuse”. Family Code 6320 defines the “enjoinable conduct” as follows:


6320. The court may issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m of the Penal Code, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members.

It’s Complicated


As you can see, domestic violence is far more overreaching than just physical violence. Additionaly, there are more than one type of domestic violence restraining orders. A temporary or emergency order, requires “a showing of good cause,” or “to the satisfaction of the court” in order for the order to be granted.  In the event you need a permanent restraining order you would have to file for a hearing and provide more evidence to have a permanent order issued. If you feel you need a domestic violence restraining order it is best to consult with an attorney who can help guide you through the process and help you secure the best order for your and your loved ones safety.

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