Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurs in relationships between intimate partners or family members when one partner abuses or threatens to abuse the other. In the field of family law, we see this all too frequently as troubled relationships come to an end.

We represent clients who find it necessary to obtain a restraining order for reasons of personal safety at any time during their relationships, and often before, during and after divorce or partnership termination. Being threatened with physical or emotional violence is serious, and our clients know that they have the ability to seek legal and physical protection from the court.

We also represent clients who are the targets of malicious restraining orders in family law situations. Sometimes parties will use false allegations of domestic violence to obtain restraining orders in the hope that it will allow them to get a “leg up” in a divorce or custody proceeding.

Emergency Protective Order

If you need help right now, you should call your local law enforcement agency by dialing “9-1-1” and asking for an officer to respond. The officer can then call a “beeper” judge who is on-duty 24-hours a day to obtain an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) that is effective immediately and typically lasts for up to seven days. The EPO can force the restrained person to instantly leave the home and require him/her to stay away for up to seven days.

Temporary Restraining Order

A victim of domestic violence can also seek a restraining order through the Family court. Upon the application for relief, the court will immediately issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) if it finds good cause. The TRO generally lasts for up to three weeks, at which time a hearing is scheduled to determine whether to impose a more permanent order that can last up to five years.

The TRO can order the abuser to stop abusing or threatening you, stop calling, stay away from where you and your children live, work and attend school, move out, turn in any firearms, limit the custodial time with children, pay certain bills or give up control of certain property, pay child or spousal support, and pay some or all of your attorney fees.

If the requesting party does not appear for the hearing, the TRO expires. If the alleged abuser was properly served but does not appear, the TRO is generally extended into a long-term CLETS restraining order for up to five years.

Sometimes the stress of family breakup or divorce is too much to handle and causes good people to make irrational, stupid decisions – decisions that are completely out of character – which they instantly regret, and which they never do again. Upon request of both parties, the court may drop the restraining order application and simply allow the TRO to expire.

Long-Term Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS Order)

At the hearing that follows the TRO, the court may order a more permanent restraining order if it finds good cause (e.g. the restrained person either admits the conduct or agrees to the restraint). This restraining order can last for up to five years, and is automatically entered into the Criminal Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). This means that anytime law enforcement responds to any future call about the restrained person, or even pulls over the restrained person for a traffic violation, the officers will immediately be notified that there is a restraining order in place.

When an alleged abuser is actually the target of a malicious restraining order, he or she will need to appear at the hearing, deny the allegations in their entirety, and then demand that the matter be set for an evidentiary hearing (or mini-trial). At this hearing, the accuser must then testify and present any evidence that he or she has to support the allegations. The alleged abuser may then cross-examine the accuser, testify and present any evidence to contradict the allegations. While awaiting the evidentiary hearing, an interim restraining order will be imposed that expires the day of the evidentiary hearing.

If you need to pursue a restraining order, or if you need to defend against one, we can help. Contact us or call (925) 465-2500 or (707) 398-6008 for more information or to schedule an initial consultation at Sparks Family Law, Inc. with attorney Gary D. Sparks.