In the event of physical violence, harassment or threats, or emotional, psychological or financial abuse, a spouse can fairly easily obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the other spouse. The TRO can order the abusive spouse to move out of the house and avoid all contact with the other spouse, the children or even the family pet. The subject of a restraining order is also prohibited from possessing any firearms and must either surrender any firearms to the court or sell them.
A restraining order can do a lot more than that, however. In fact, a restraining order can impact nearly every issue usually resolved in a divorce, except for actually changing the legal marital status of the parties. Spouses filing for divorce after a restraining order has been obtained may find they have little room to maneuver around what has already been decided in the court’s protective order.
Support, Custody, Visitation
For instance, under California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, a person who has been subjected to a restraining order can be prevented from receiving spousal support from the other spouse. Also, a restraining order can limit a parent’s access to his or her children, even to the point of awarding sole legal and physical custody to the other spouse. Visitation rights can also be affected, with the restraining order denying visitation or allowing only some form of supervised visitation. Finally, while a restraining order may not directly dictate child support payments, it does so indirectly by making custody decisions. The amount of parenting time the spouses enjoy is a huge factor in determining who pays child support and how much will be owed.
Having effective legal counsel can be key to protecting your best interests during any family law proceeding. If you are seeking or challenging a restraining order, or if the issue of domestic violence is being raised in your San Diego divorce, contact the Law Offices of Andy Cook to speak with an experienced family law attorney.