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Domestic Violence Includes Mental as well as Physical Abuse

On Behalf of | May 16, 2019 | Domestic Violence

It is important to know domestic violence includes mental as well as physical abuse in a divorce setting.  A recent case published late last year sheds important light on the important issue of domestic violence as it relates to restraining orders, permanent protective orders and ultimately issues such as child custody in a divorce.

The case involved the father of a child who was unwed to the mother.  The man in this case was alleged to have exerted mental abuse through controlling and accusatory behavior.  In addition, the mother of the woman suffering the abuse, as well as the woman herself testified to numerous incidents of physical violence, even while she was pregnant.  At one point the woman required hospitalization.  The man continued to harass and threaten her via social media.

The trial Court in this case ruled Domestic Violance Prevention Act or DVPA did not include mental abuse.  The man had moved out of the area, and argued that there had been no physical abuse for six months.  The trial court ruled the abuse was “too removed” from the date of the hearing and rejected the permanent protective order and dismissed the temporary restraining order.

The Court of Appeal reversed the decision, noting domestic violence includes mental as well as physical abuse in a divorce setting.  The Court of Appeal went on to determine that physical abuse is not required to be present in order for a victim to suffer domestic violence.  The appellate ruling noted other cases where threatening email and texts had been classified by California Courts as domestic violence, and found that acts of threats, isolation and control were also components of domestic violence.

The presence of domestic violence and any resulting protective order can have a substantial impact on issues such as child custody and visitation.  Our Courts always approach these cases with the best interests of the child in mind.  An abusive relationship and the presence of domestic violence is not a safe environment for any child.