Victims of domestic violence in San Diego could face a situation that may be even more worrisome than threats from an abusive family member - that is, the inability to receive the necessary and immediate protection via the court system. According to a recent article appearing in The Sacramento Bee, the possibility of reducing funding to state courts means that the services will be cut back or eliminated. For victims of domestic violence, this creates an unthinkable dilemma: what if the courts, due to limited hours or possibly even closures, are unable to process a request for a restraining order in a timely manner, to ensure their immediate safety and protection? Domestic violence is a serious offense, one that requires prompt attention. If you or someone you know is involved in a domestic violence situation, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.
In California, domestic violence involves abuse or threats of abuse where the people involved have been in an intimate relationship, including those who are married, domestic partners, are dating or dated in the past, or live or lived together, or have a child together. Courts will also consider the abuse or related threats to be domestic violence if the abuser and the abused person are closely related by blood or by marriage.
The abuse can be manifested in many ways, such as: physically hurting or attempting to hurt someone, either with intent or in a reckless manner; sexual assault; threats of harm that make someone reasonably afraid that they will be seriously injured; or such menacing behavior as harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; possibly even disturbing someone's peace; or destroying another's personal property. It is also important to realize that abuse extends beyond physical actions -- it includes verbal, emotional, or psychological tactics as well.
Victims of such abuse may petition a local court for a domestic violence restraining order. This is a court order that helps to protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with. Victims who go to court to find some protection and relief need to know they will receive a rapid response with meaningful assistance. According to the article referenced above, it was typical for a court to attempt to process a temporary restraining order on the same day it was filed. Sometimes the abused person in a potentially explosive relationship cannot wait until the next day for help. Data indicates that victims are at a greater risk of being stalked, assaulted or even killed in the weeks immediately after moving out of the home or filing for separation or divorce.
A restraining order can require that the abuser stay away from you and your children and possibly other relatives, as well as require the person to comply with child support payments and to follow any child custody and visitation orders. It can be a life-saving tool for many people. Hopefully, the lawmakers will consider the vital needs of victims who rely on the courts for practical assistance.