California has amended the Domestic Violence Prevent Act in 2021 to clarify that “disturbing the peace of the other party” as a basis for obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order includes “coercive control.” Examples of coercive control include, but are not limited to, unreasonably engaging in any of the following:
- Isolating the other party from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
- Depriving the other party of basic necessities.
- Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.
- Compelling the other party by force, threat of force, or intimidation, including threats based on actual or suspected immigration status, to engage in conduct from which the other party has a right to engage.
Here, the keywords are “unreasonably engaging.” Therefore, monitoring the other movements by installing a tracker on the vehicle your spouse drives is now considered domestic violence. Additionally, depriving the other party of basic necessities could easily mean that refusing to provide voluntary child support and/or spousal support (attempting to starve out the other spouse) is now domestic violence. To the spouse to who says I’m not going to pay any support until a judge orders me to, be careful. You may be committing domestic violence.
When considering “controlling economic resources,” it is doubtful that any Judge would find that arguing over whether the family finances can afford a new vehicle qualifies as domestic violence. However, canceling a cell phone could easily be seen as controlling behavior and an attempt to isolate a person. At the onset of a marital separation or break up involving children, it essential to get immediate legal advice. Even if you don’t end up hiring an attorney, you should know your rights and responsibilities to avoid a mistake that could result in a Domestic Violence Restraining Order being issued against you under the new law. A Domestic Violence Restraining Order can have serious effects, including the loss of employment or the denial of employment because the restraining orders are not only public record, they are uploaded to a statewide law enforcement database, which is also accessible by the federal government.