Domestic Violence in Marriages and Your Legal Rights

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What happens if your partner in a marriage or other intimate relationship abuses you?

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be anything from an actual act of physical violence to a verbal threat of physical violence or a pattern of harassing behavior. Examples of domestic violence in a relationship can include hurting, hitting, pushing, shoving, throwing objects, following, stalking, harassing, sexually assaulting, intimidating, isolating from others, breaking into home or work, destroying or stealing property, withholding money, or threatening to do any of the above. This is a serious type of abuse and can take many different forms, including verbal, written, emotional, psychological, or physical. What’s more, abusers often use a combination of tactics to control the victim and to continue to have power over the victim.

If you have been the victim of domestic violence in Los Angeles, you may file a restraining order petition under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. To ask for a domestic violence restraining order, you file the appropriate forms telling the court/judge what you want (a restraining order) and why you want it (to protect yourself from the person who has abused you or threatened to abuse you).

What is the relationship between victim and abuser for a domestic violence restraining order?

In order to obtain a domestic violence restraining order, the victim and the abuser must have a close relationship or be related by blood or marriage. To have a close relationship means to be married, registered domestic partners, divorced or separated, dating or used to date, living together or used to live together (as more than just roommates), have a child together, etc. To be related by blood or marriage means parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-laws, etc.

Elder abuse and domestic violence

If you are the victim of domestic violence and you are either over the age of 65 or a dependent adult, you may file an Elder Abuse / Dependent Adult Petition and Order for Protection. This petition and order provides protections against both physical abuse and financial abuse. Abuse to an elder can be threatening, causing pain or mental suffering, intimidating, isolating, abducting, financial abuse, or other mistreatment.

Are there any other options?

If you do not qualify for a Domestic Violence Prevention Act restraining order or Elder Abuse / Dependent Adult Petition, you can possibly file a civil harassment restraining order or a workplace violence restraining order. Discuss your options, including filing for legal separation or divorce, with an experienced family law attorney in Los Angeles.

Although you do not need an attorney to ask for (or to respond to) a restraining order, you should consider retaining a family law attorney who will protect your rights, especially if you have children. Maneuvering through the court process can be unclear and scary, but the right lawyer can make it easier to handle.

For more information on how to protect yourself legally against an abusive spouse, contact the family lawyers at Walzer & Melcher today.

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