How Does an Active Restraining Order Impact Child Custody Arrangements?

The end of a marriage is a time of high emotion, but it should never result in violence – physical or otherwise. Unfortunately, this is all too common, and children may end up in the crosshairs when their parents are in the midst of dissolving their vows. When one spouse takes out a restraining order on the other, this is a legal indication that they feel targeted by an imminent threat of violence or harm at the hands of their estranged spouse. The restraining order bars the recipient from further abuse, harassment, as well as further any contact for a stipulated period of time. The restraining order also removes the recipient’s custody and visitation rights while it is active.

The long-term impact of how the restraining order (RO) will affect the recipient’s custody and visitation rights depends on the type of RO was filed. If an emergency protective order (EPO) was initiated, the spouse who filed the order believes they and/or their child is in danger of abuse or abduction by their aggressor. The EPO is effective immediately and lasts for 1 week, and if the aggressor lives under the same roof, the family court judge will typically order them to leave the home during this time period. If a temporary restraining order (TRO) is filed, this order is legally in effect for 20 to 25 days, and when the TRO ends, a judge will determine when it should be made permanent or not. Permanent restraining orders (PROs) can only be initiated once a TRO has lapsed and the judge determines it should be extended. The PRO may last up 3 to 5 years.

Under What Circumstances Can an Abusive Spouse Get Custody or Visitation Rights?

Usually, when a judge determines domestic violence has occurred, they cannot grant joint or sole custody to the parent who committed it; however, they may be granted parenting time (visitation) with their children. This is not always the case, though.

A judge may grant custody to a parent who has committed domestic violence if the following are true:

  • They prove to the court that giving custody to them is in the best interest of the children
  • They have successfully completed a 52-week batterer intervention program
  • They have successfully completed substance abuse counseling (if applicable due to a court order)
  • They have successfully completed parenting classes (if applicable due to a court order)
  • They comply with the terms of their probation or parole, if applicable
  • They comply with the terms of their restraining order
  • They have not committed any further domestic violence

You can learn more about California laws about children and domestic violence as it pertains to custody and visitation orders at the California Courts website by clicking here.

How Can I Learn More About Restraining Orders & Child Custody in a Divorce?

If you are in the midst of a divorce fraught with domestic violence, our compassionate attorneys at Palmer Rodak & Associates are here to fight for your rights and those of your children. Speaking to a divorce lawyer may be the best way for you to move forward to help hash out child custody issues.

If you are in fear and currently facing domestic violence issues, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline and ask for domestic violence organization in your area.

To reach out to Palmer Rodak & Associates for a confidential one-on-one consultation, contact us online or reach out today at (760) 573-2223.