FAQ: How do DVTROs affect temporary child or spousal support in domestic violence situations?

While child and spousal support are “normally” received after one party initiates divorce or legal separation proceedings, it is rarely discussed that a party can receive support even before such proceedings are initiated. The Domestic Violence Prevention Act, codified in the California Family Code, allows a Petitioner who files a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order (DVTRO) to receive child and spousal support without even expressing an intention to divorce.

 

If you are in a domestic violence situation, seek help from law enforcement in an emergency, and use the Safety Planning resources available through WEAVE Inc.

 

Does this ever really happen in practice? In fact it does. Sometimes a party desires the space and temporary protection afforded by a DVTRO while they decide whether to permanently separate. While some might feel that violence should necessarily lead to divorce, there are many reasons why it might not. For example, many families from different cultures (or practicing certain religions) may be incentivized to reconcile the marriage by undergoing anger management counseling or through other forms of therapy.

There are also several types of “violence” covered by the DVPA, many of which are not physical. One party could file against their spouse because of a drinking problem, for example. Or, a party could be required to file a DVTRO against the other to appease Child Protective Services.

The filing of a DVTRO alone is not equivalent to one spouse’s permanent intent to divorce. For that reason, Family Code Section 6341 allows courts to compel the Respondent (even before making a finding of wrong-doing against them) to provide temporary support to the Petitioner while the couple decides whether reconciling is appropriate.

The filing of DVTROs can be complicated, and should not be initiated without deep consideration of future ramifications — many of which are not immediately obvious and can sometimes be counter to the victim’s ultimate intent.

If you are in a domestic violence situation, seek help from law enforcement in an emergency, and use the Safety Planning resources available through WEAVE Inc.

 

FORESTER PURCELL STOWELL PC is a boutique family law firm based in Folsom, California. The attorneys can be reached at info@foresterpurcell.com or 916 293 4000. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.
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