Lawyer Discusses Domestic Violence Hearings in San Diego
Domestic violence is a serious issue. Yet, it's a common problem not only in California, but the entire nation. If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, it is critical to the safety of you and your children to get immediate help. Try to get away from your abuser as soon as possible. Call the police, file a report, and get to a local shelter where you and your children can remain safe.
If you are a victim or the respondent in a domestic violence hearing, it is important that you have an experienced San Diego family law attorney on your side. The legal procedures around domestic violence cases are complicated, and Mattis Law, A.P.C. can help protect your rights every step of the way. Call us at (858) 328-4400.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 32.9 percent of women living in California have at some point in their lives been the victim of violence or stalking by a partner. That adds up to more than 4.5 million women now living in California who have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives. Nationwide, one in four women reports being victims of domestic violence.
Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year in the U.S. Of those, 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women. The impact of domestic violence on children is also serious. Between 30 to 60 percent of abusers also abuse children in the household.
When you report domestic violence to a San Diego court, you have the right to request a protective order (also called restraining orders) against your abuser. A protective order is designed to prohibit your abuser from contacting you in any way or coming within a certain distance of your home, work, schools, or any location you frequent. Protectives orders are issued for a certain period of time, however, and must be approved by a judge.
To receive a temporary order in San Diego, you may fill out a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Packet or a Domestic Violence Restraining Order with Children Packet at a county courthouse and submit it to the clerk. Generally, within 24 hours a judge will review your request and decide whether or not you will receive a temporary order.
If you receive a temporary order, it will last until your domestic violence hearing, which will be scheduled by the court clerk. Someone – not you – must also inform your abuser of the order and the hearing date. This can be handled by the sheriff’s office, but you must request it. You may also request a “move out order” to have the abuser removed from your home. Depending on the type of order you receive, you may also receive temporary sole custody of any children until the domestic violence hearing.
During the hearing, a family court judge will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to support protective orders in favor of the victim. Both the victim and abuser will be present to represent their sides of the case. Each of them is allowed to have a lawyer present, as the judge may also decide family law matters, such as child custody and visitation, at the hearing. Generally, these cases are decided in a single hearing unless one side requests a continuance to have more time to prepare their case. Cases can take hours or be decided in a short period of time if one of the parties does not show up.
The judge will evaluate several factors related to the case, including:
- Testimony from both sides
- Previous reports of abuse or violence
- Witness testimony
- Physical evidence of abuse, including damaged property, text messages, and police reports
If the judge approves the permanent protective order, the new order will last for up to five years. The judge may also determine that the victim will get sole custody of the children to keep the entire family safe from abuse. However, custody and visitation can also be decided even if the order is denied, especially if the judge feels there is significant evidence that the accused is a danger to the children.
If you are the petitioner (victim) in a domestic violence matter, you can take the following steps to prepare for a domestic violence hearing:
- Prepare a thorough history of your relationship with the abuser.
- Provide any evidence you may have about past abuse.
- Take photographs of your injuries.
- Request copies of your medical records if you sought out medical attention after being abused.
- Write down the day, date, time and place of the last time you were abused.
Evidence in a domestic violence hearing can vary depending on the situation, but any records of abuse can prove invaluable to your case. This can include previous reports of abuse, written records of abuse (journals, letters, etc.), text messages or voice mails, medical evaluations, and witness statements. You should acquire all available evidence that you can and present it to your attorney before your hearing, as you cannot guarantee that the judge will approve the permanent protective order on your testimony alone.
Document your financial needs if you also plan on requesting emergency family maintenance at your domestic violence hearing. You will have to make a list of your income and monthly expenses to support your request. In addition, you will want to prepare for the possibility of custody orders and work with your attorney to prepare your request for sole custody.
Preparing and stating your case in a domestic violence hearing on your own can be difficult for both sides. These cases are stressful, complicated, and can have serious ramifications for your life. To ensure your rights are protected throughout the proceedings and that you abide by all court rules, your best option is to contact an experienced family law attorney.
Your attorney can carefully review your case to determine the best strategy for receiving a permanent protective order or defending against one. At Mattis Law, A.P.C., our legal team can review all available evidence, prepare your arguments, and outline any changes to your household, such as child custody or emergency family maintenance, that may be affected by the hearing.
If you or your children are in danger, call the police and contact a San Diego family law attorney. Going through a domestic violence hearing alone is a difficult process, and Mattis Law, A.P.C. can work to protect you and your children. Call us at (858) 328-4400 for a no-cost consultation.
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