By Donald P. Schweitzer and Nitasha Khanna
This past year, there were several domestic violence cases that caught the nation’s attention. Several people holding high profile jobs, and at least one multi-billion dollar industry (the NFL), were under fire for not appropriately dealing with this serious issue. Not surprisingly, while these cases were in the national spotlight, California witnessed a noticeable uptick in appellate court cases concerning domestic violence. In 2014, there were multiple decisions written by our appellate courts dealing with issues concerning the trial courts’ handling of domestic violence in family law cases. In two notable cases, the Court of Appeal overturned the trial courts’ rulings concerning custody and visitation because the trial court judges in those particular cases did not make findings that the perpetrator had overcome the presumption against domestic violence before granting the perpetrator custody of minor children.
In another case, the Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s decision to terminate a woman’s right to receive spousal support because she had been convicted of committing domestic violence against her husband.
The significance of these cases is huge as they are adding teeth to codes that have been part of the California Family Code for years, yet were not being enforced properly by many trial courts. Based on these decisions, we expect to see victims of domestic violence receive more protection from the family law courts. Likewise, this trend in the law may be a wakeup call for people predisposed to commit domestic violence!