One issue the family law attorney encounters is the presence of domestic violence in the relationship. Such acts of violence pose not only problems for the parties involved, but for the family law attorney. The act must be made known outside the home and then the proper legal recourse must be navigated. A significant number of these acts of violence go unreported and therefore no legal recourse is ever taken. The family law attorney will unlikely be the first to hear of these acts of violence. Family members, peers, police officers, and social workers are all channels in which such acts will be made known.
The most common remedy to domestic violence situations is a protective order. In California, the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act provides this option. Not only does it cover situations involving spouses, but includes cohabitants, those whom the offender has or is presumed to have a child with, former spouses, and a host of other statutorily recognized parties. (Cal. Fam. Code 6211.)
The presence of domestic violence may also be a factor in various proceedings. It is a well-established factor in establishing custody, visitation, and other situations involving children. It is also sometimes a factor in permanent support orders as emotional distress caused by the supporting party can be considered in determining an award. A criminal conviction is not absolutely necessary, but absent a protective order or some other judicially adopted reporting scheme, it is difficult to establish a history of domestic violence. California Family Code 6228 provides a key foundation for utilizing domestic violence incident reports in support situations.