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Two Cases That Help Define Domestic Abuse in California

Guiding You Through Difficult Times

An important case has come down that helps clarify the necessary elements to be plead by the aggrieved party in a domestic violence case.  In Marriage of Nadkarni (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1483, a California appellate court reversed a lower court’s ruling to dismiss a mother’s application for restraining orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA).  Upon determining the pleaded facts to be insufficient in constituting abuse within the meaning of the DVPA, the trial court granted father’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

In its assessment of whether mother pled facts sufficiently, the appellate court adopted the Oxford English Dictionary Online definitions of “disturb” and “peace”, as in “disturbing the peace of the other party,” which is conduct subject to restraint pursuant to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.  The appellate court concluded that disturbing the peace means “conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party.”  Based on that definition, mother’s pleading was in fact sufficient.

Another important case in this area is S.M. v. E.P. (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1249).  In this case, the California appellate court confronted the issue of whether a trial court’s finding that father badgered mother was legally sufficient to support issuance of a restraining order.  The appellate court concluded it was not and reversed.

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