2020 Family Law Key Statutory Developments

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Domestic Violence

Temporary Restraining or Protective Orders COVID-19 Emergency Court Rule: Rule 8

On April 6, the Judicial Council of California enacted eleven emergency rules for court proceedings throughout California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them, Emergency protective orders related to domestic violence, abuse, or abduction which were issued or set to expire during the state of emergency remain in effect for 30 days from the date of issuance. Temporary restraining orders or gun violence protective orders remain in effect for up to 90 days from the date of issuance. Criminal protective orders subject to this rule are automatically extended for up to 90 days, or until the matter can be heard, whichever is first. Restraining and protective orders enacted as a result of a hearing must remain in effect for up to 90 days from date of expiration. Any court-modified orders that modify duration or expiration date must be sent to the Department of Justice. Courts must also provide protected parties with a way to file ex parte requests to obtain and renew TROs.

‘Coercive Control’ Bill Expands Protection Against Domestic Violence: SB 1141

On Sept. 29, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1141, expanding the definition of domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Fam. Code, §§ 6200-6409) and making California the first state to define “coercive control” in the law.

The new legislation amends Family Code section 6320, clarifying that “disturbing the peace of the other party,” a basis for obtaining a domestic violence restraining order under section 6320(a), includes coercive control. In doing so, the legislature has recognized something that domestic violence experts and victims have long known — that this subtle, insidious, and often-overlooked phenomenon is a devastating and pervasive form of abuse. New language in section 6320 defines coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.”

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