How Is Domestic Violence Defined Under California Law?

If you’re contesting or are in the process of deciding on child custody and even accused of domestic violence in California, it could have a significant impact on the court’s decision.
Therefore, you also must know how domestic violence is defined under California law.

Simply put, domestic violence is defined as any person who shares an intimate relationship with another (whether it be your partner, your spouse, or your child) committing an act that inflicts or threatens harm.

Domestic violence actions include behavior such as;

  • Committing any act that would mandate the court to issue a domestic protective order. This act can include harassment, threatening telephone calls or texts, stalking, and physical assault.
  • Intentionally, or in some cases, recklessly causing bodily injury to another household member.
  • Any sexual assault.
  • Making their partner, spouse, or child reasonably afraid that they or another is in danger of immediate bodily injury.

Additionally, you must commit these acts against others in your household who are;

  • Your current or former spouse.
  • Someone who you live with or lived with on a day-to-day basis.
  • Anyone related to you by blood or marriage.
  • A child that you’ve had together.
  • Someone you regularly date or are engaged to.

If you are seeking custody of your children in California and have committed any of the acts above, you could, at the least, be accused of domestic violence, and it could significantly and negatively affect your case.

However baseless you may consider a domestic violence allegation, it’s critical that you obtain the professional advice and guidance of a Fresno child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

If I’m Accused of Domestic Violence in California, Could It Affect a Child Custody Decision?

Remember that the California courts determine child custody decisions using many laws and rules; however, one standard rule is always considered: what’s in the child’s best interests. Following this rule has significant authority, and if alleged domestic violence is part of the equation, it will not be overlooked.

Even if the alleged domestic violence is against the other parent and not the child, this is still considered to be a form of child abuse.

Exposing children to situations of domestic violence within a child’s home is a form of child abuse. So, this alleged crime is always investigated carefully, even if there is no official record of child abuse in the court records.

However, suppose a domestic violence incident is alleged before any judge takes it into account as a valid factor when making custody decisions. In that case, they will always analyze the allegations in detail and determine that domestic violence exists in the case.

To determine this fact, most judges will consider all the evidence that the allegation is based on, such as;

· Was the accused parent charged and convicted of domestic violence within the last five years, or did they plead guilty or no contest to a domestic violence charge?

  • Has any court decided that the alleged parent committed domestic violence against the other parent or the children?
  • Did any court put a restraining order in place against the alleged spouse in a custody case that included child abuse or any threatening actions?

You also must be aware that special laws apply to child custody cases in California. So, if a judge determines that the alleged parent has committed domestic abuse against the other or a child or a sibling, then they must rule within the guidelines of these laws.

These laws are specific and follow the guidelines that awarding sole or shared custody to a spouse who committed domestic abuse is never in the best interests of the child.
So, although this court ruling is rebuttable, and the parents may defend themselves by showing evidence that the accusations are false, it still puts the alleged parent in a challenging situation.

What Type of Evidence May the Court Consider When Investigating Alleged Abuse?

Any allegation of domestic violence, when linked to a child custody battle, can severely limit your chances of obtaining the custody you desire.

All family courts in California follow the mandate that awarding sole or joint custody to a parent with a known history of domestic violence is never in a child’s best interests; however, the court must hear all relevant testimony and consider all the evidence presented before making its final decision.

Just some of the evidence the court may consider is;

  • Whether or not the parent has successfully completed an alcohol or drug treatment program
  • If the parent is accused of battery, whether they completed a treatment and counseling program.
  • If the accused parent attended and completed an appropriate parenting class.

The court could consider other items of evidence. For example, the accused parent’s willingness to abide by their mandated parole terms or restraining orders.

However, as the accused parent, you always have the right to defend yourself. So, having the professional help of an experienced child custody lawyer is mandatory. You and your thorough and diligent child custody lawyer must present evidence that exonerates you from these accusations or explains why they should be dismissed.

A Key Takeaway When Deciding on Custody and Accused of Domestic Violence.

When you are going through a divorce case or modifying a custody agreement, specific topics can critically impact the court’s decision in your case; one of the more serious of these items is being accused of domestic violence.

The California court always considers that the welfare and safety of the child are the most critical factor when deciding on custody.

Domestic violence and abuse can be demonstrated in many ways, and although it may shock you to be accused of these acts, they may have a basis in the law.

Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, and mental. Also, the severity and duration of the alleged abuse will have a considerable impact on the court’s final custody decision.

If you’ve been accused of domestic violence and must legally navigate this touchy area of child custody law, you must have an experienced, detail-oriented, aggressive, and compassionate lawyer to fight for your rights; you and your child’s future will depend on it.

I Have an Issue with Child Custody and Domestic Violence; How Should I Proceed?

Child custody issues are one of the most critical and emotional aspects of every divorce case. If either parent is even accused of domestic violence, the California court always considers this fact with the utmost care and seriousness before making a custody decision.

Therefore, if domestic violence is a factor in your custody case, you must have the most experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate legal representation possible.

The Fresno-based Bains Law Office has a long and successful history of successfully helping California clients through these challenging, emotion-laden custody cases. Call them today at (559) 282-8924 for a complete case evaluation and have the peace of mind inherent in knowing you have the most empathetic and professional legal representation possible.