It can be frustrating for parents to deal with child custody and visitation disputes. In some cases, disputes escalate to the point of making threats, physical violence, or making false accusations of abuse. After an arrest for suspected domestic battery in California, the alleged perpetrator may be limited in where they can go and who they can contact. This can make things complicated for child visitation and sharing custody.
Each East Bay domestic violence case is handled differently. It is important to understand your rights after a domestic battery arrest and what you can do to continue having a good relationship with your child in spite of your problems with the other parent. If you have any questions about child custody and visitation after accusations of domestic violence, talk to an experienced East Bay criminal defense lawyer about your options.
Child Custody and Visitation Consequences of DV
California takes domestic violence accusations very seriously. Even before you have your day in court, an arrest for domestic violence could include a temporary restraining order to prevent contact between the alleged abuser and the victim. If you are convicted of domestic battery, you could face a permanent protection order limiting who you can see, where you can go, and who you can contact.
Consequences of domestic violence convictions in California can include:
- Jail time
- Restraining order
- Batterer's treatment program
- Loss of gun rights
A restraining order that includes your child will generally supersede any child custody or visitation order in place. Violating the restraining order even if you claim you had child visitation scheduled can result in an arrest for violating the restraining order.
If the other parent of your child has a restraining order against you, it can be difficult to arrange child visitation to see your child. You may be able to arrange ways to visit with your child without violating the restraining order. The family court can modify a visitation order to take into account the protection order and the safety of the child.
This may include supervised visitation where there is always another person present when you spend time with your child. The visitation order may also provide for where the visitation or custody change will take place. For example, your child could be dropped off with a family member and after a certain amount of time, you could pick up your child without violating the protection order.
A conviction for domestic violence can make it difficult to get custody of your child in a child custody dispute. Before you can get custody after a domestic violence conviction, you may have to prove to the court that custody is in the child's best interests. This can include:
- Completing a batterer intervention program
- Substance abuse counseling
- Parenting classes
- Completing the terms of probation
- No violations of restraining orders
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs) in California
There are several types of restraining orders in California after a domestic violence charge. Depending on the specific order, it can include a lot of restrictions, including prohibiting going within a certain distance of the subject, calling or contacting them online, going to their house or place of work, or even prohibiting talking to their family members.
Domestic violence restraining orders are supposed to be used to protect someone from physical harm, abuse, or threat of harm. Types of protection orders include:
- Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO)
- Permanent Restraining Orders (up to 3 years)
- Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)
- Criminal Protective Orders (“Stay-Away” Orders)
Violating the terms of the order can have additional penalties, including a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Subsequent violations have increased penalties.
Can My Ex Get a Restraining Order That Includes My Child?
If your child's other parent has a restraining order for violence or threat of violence, it may or may not include your child. If there were threats against your child's safety or the child witnessed the abuse against the other parent, a court may grant a protection order that includes restrictions against seeing, contacting, or coming within a certain distance of the child.
For a temporary protection order (TPO) or emergency order, there may be broader restrictions that only last for a limited period. For a permanent or long-term protection order, you will generally have your chance to defend yourself in court. The type of protection order and whether it includes your child depends on whether the court believes your child is at risk of injury or harm.
Can I Visit If My Ex Says It's Okay?
If there is a protection order in place that says you have to stay a certain distance from your ex, don't violate the order, even if your ex says it's ok. Even if your former partner doesn't report it, someone else might and you could end up under arrest for violating the court order. If you want to get the order taken off or loosen the restrictions, take your case to court.
Your attorney can file a motion with the court to remove or modify the order so you can visit your child without worrying about a restraining order violation.
Domestic Violence Defense in Oakland and the East Bay
If you are arrested for a DUI in the East Bay, talk to a criminal defense attorney about your rights. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of DUI defense experience and understands how to approach each case for the greatest chance for success. Representing drivers in Oakland, Alameda County, and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with DUI defense strategies for drivers accused of drunk driving.