Domestic Violence

Westlake Village Domestic Violence Lawyer

Seeking to use Domestic Violence as Grounds for Divorce?

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that an individual or couple does not need any reason to file for divorce to end the marriage besides the fact that irreconcilable differences have arisen in the marriage that have led to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.  However, the California no-fault rule does not apply to domestic violence.  Some people may need immediate protective relief in a threatened or actual “domestic violence” situation.  In this case, an immediate appointment should be scheduled so that necessary ex parte (emergency) orders may be obtained.  While a domestic violence hearing often occurs during a divorce proceeding, domestic violence is a separate proceeding from a divorce proceeding, and can proceed even if a divorce petition has not been filed. 

Most organizations recognize that domestic violence is a “systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”  However, domestic violence law has been slower to align with the literature and has mostly defined domestic violence according to physical injury.  One notable exception in California is Family Code section 6203(b) which contains specific language noting that domestic abuse is not limited to the infliction of physical injury or assault.  Family Code section 6320 goes further in listing behavior a court may enjoin through a domestic violence restraining order, including disturbing the peace of the protected party.

Coercive control is a gendered pattern of behavior used mostly by men to dominate women in personal life through the deprivation of rights and resources.  The particular harm of coercive control lies in its constant and repetitive infliction of liberty deprivations that work together to isolate the victim and deprive her of connections to resources, friends, family, and other sources of support.  Since January 2021, coercive control has become part of California’s Family Code definition of disturbing the peace.

The greatest loss of power for an abuser is at the time the victim decides to leave the relationship. This is also the most dangerous time for the victim. The presence of children in the relationship provides abusers further opportunity to exert control over the primary victim. This control may begin even before dissolution of the relationship. Often, the abuser threatens to harm or take away the children if the victim leaves.

If you and / or your children are the victim of domestic violence or abuse, a Westlake Village divorce lawyer from Richard Ross Associates can help by providing the knowledgeable counsel and representation you need.

Protective Orders & Restraining Orders

The first step in the process of domestic violence is to obtain a protective order or restraining order. Emergency protective orders can be issued immediately by a law enforcement officer who arrives on the scene of domestic violence, and can later be changed for a temporary or permanent restraining order against the violent offender.

There are a few types of restraining orders, including:

  • Domestic violence CLETS restraining orders (DVRO)
  • Temporary restraining orders (TRO)
  • Emergency protective orders (EPO)
  • CLETS orders
  • Family law (soft) orders

Once you have obtained a restraining order to protect yourself and your children, you can begin the divorce process. Whether or not your spouse wants a divorce, you still have the right to request the commencement of a divorce proceeding with the help of a divorce attorney by your side.

Contact a Thousand Oaks Divorce Attorney Near You

Searching for an experienced domestic violence lawyer in Westlake Village or Thousand Oaks, CA? Richard Ross Associates is prepared to skillfully manage your case to a satisfactory outcome. Attorney Ross has over 40 years of legal experience and is board certified as a specialist in family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Your best interests are our main focus, which means that we will go the extra mile to meet your needs and obtain the best results for your domestic violence case. Call today or fill out our online case evaluation form to get started. The sooner you contact a Westlake Village divorce lawyer from our firm - which also serves all of Ventura County - the sooner you can get protection from domestic violence.


  • I heartily recommend him to anybody in need of a well qualified, results-oriented, family law specialist.

    “I would not hesitate to, again, retain the legal services of Richard Ross.”

  • Our family and our dignity have been restored.

    “Mr. Ross and his supportive, competent staff put their hearts into their work and literally turned our lives around.”

  • The results far exceeded my expectations.

    “The entire staff at Richard Ross Associates really helped me through my divorce and they were with me the whole way.”

  • Extremely thorough and professional!

    “Richard has helped me through a very difficult divorce and I can't say enough good things about him.”

  • Polite, caring, and quick to respond.

    “Richard Ross is a subject matter expert in the field of family law.”


  • This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
  • If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
  • To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
  • The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
  • Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.