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Disturbing the Peace as the Basis for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A domestic violence restraining order is an order issued by the court in cases where one person has abused another person with whom he or she has some type of domestic relationship (e.g. the abuser and the victim are or were married or dating, they have children together, or they are immediate family members). The domestic violence restraining order is intended to prevent the person against whom it is ordered from further abusing the victim.

Many people may assume that a court will only grant a domestic violence restraining order when there has been some form of physical violence or threat of physical violence by the abuser. Under the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA), however, abuse also includes conduct that “disturbs the peace” of the other party.

California courts have interpreted the phrase “disturbing the peace of the other party” to mean behaving in such a way that “destroys” the other party’s “mental or emotional calm.” Conduct that “destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party” includes behavior such as accessing, reading, and distributing to others a spouse’s private emails or text messages containing sensitive information. (see In re Marriage of Nadkarni, 173 Cal. App.4th 1483, 1498 (2009); and In re Marriage of Evilsizor & Sweeney, 237 Cal. App.4th 1416, 1425 (2015)). Revealing private information about a spouse’s personal affairs to her employer and children has also been found to be behavior that destroys the mental or emotional calm of that person. (see Altafulla v. Ervin, 238 Cal. App.4th 571, 579 (2015)).

Destroying the mental or emotional calm of the other party is not limited to disseminating private information about that person. In a recent case, the California Appellate Court for the 4th district determined that the conduct of a former boyfriend who had attempted to control and isolate his girlfriend in various ways, including forcing her to keep a phone call going during her class so he could monitor her behavior, and taking away her phone to prevent her from calling her mother, was “well beyond accessing and disseminating texts and emails,” and demonstrated the destruction of the girlfriend’s mental and emotional calm. Rodriguez v. Menjivar, 243 Cal. App.4th 816, 817-820 (2015).

Therefore, the basis for granting a domestic violence restraining order is much broader than acts of physical violence and abuse. An individual suffering emotional and mental abuse at the hands of a domestic partner or immediate family member is likely to have a sufficient cause to obtain a domestic violence restraining order against his or her abuser.

If you need assistance with obtaining a domestic violence restraining order, please contact a Los Angeles Restraining Order Attorney at (818) 305-6200.

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