Restraining Orders

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (“DVPA”) (Family Code §6300, et seq.) was drafted to provide protections against domestic violence.

Family Code §6203 defines abuse as any of the following:
1. intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury, or attempting to cause bodily injury, sexual assault,
2. placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person, or to another person, or
3. engaging in any behavior that may be enjoined under Section 6320, which includes: molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, credibly impersonating (as described in Penal Code 528.5), falsely personating (as described in Penal Code § 529), harassing, telephoning, (including making annoying telephone calls as described in Penal Code § 653m), 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.

One definition of abuse, “disturbing the peace of the other party,” receives heightened attention and continual reapplication by the courts.

Generally speaking, “disturbing the peace” is “conduct that destroys . . . mental or emotional calm.” (In re Marriage of Nadkarni (2009) 173 CA4th 1483.)  This is obviously a broad definition, and there are countless ways in which one party’s conduct can disturb the peace of another. In the Nadkarni case, the Court of Appeal held that reading another party’s private emails, and then disclosing the contents of those emails to third parties was proper grounds to issue a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. More recently, in McCord v. Smith, the Court of Appeal held that a restraining order was appropriate based on McCord’s behavior, which included, 1) attempting to exercise “dominion and control” over Smith, 2) sending a picture of her nursing license to her as a threat, and 3) continuing to initiate contact with her months after they broke up.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should contact the police immediately and consult with a family law attorney who is experienced with domestic violence cases.

Conversely, if you have been accused of committing domestic violence, you should also immediately seek council from an experienced family law attorney as the consequences of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order can be far reaching, including loss of custody of your children, loss of employment, and loss of spousal support.