How Can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Impact a Divorce in California?

When facing a divorce in California, it’s important to understand the potential impact of a domestic violence restraining order.

While the grounds for divorce are typically based on irreconcilable differences, accusations or convictions of domestic violence can significantly influence the proceedings.

In this article, we will explore the ways in which a domestic violence restraining order can impact a California divorce, providing you with a clearer understanding of the potential implications.

  1. Restricting Communication and Negotiation:

  • In most divorce cases, spouses are encouraged to negotiate on issues like child custody, spousal support, and property division. However, a domestic violence restraining order can prevent direct communication between the parties involved.
  • When a restraining order is in effect, the alleged abuser is typically commanded to stay away from the other spouse. This restriction can hinder the possibility of amicable negotiations and may require lawyers to act as intermediaries.
  1. Housing Arrangements:

  • In a typical divorce, both spouses have the right to reside in the family home as it is considered community property. However, when one spouse is accused of domestic violence, the judge may order them to leave the family house.
  • A domestic violence restraining order can result in the alleged abuser being prohibited from staying in the family home during the divorce process, which can impact living arrangements and potentially create additional financial burdens.
  1. Spousal Support Considerations:

  • California Family Code Section 4325 establishes a rebuttable presumption that a person convicted of domestic violence within five years of the dissolution of the marriage will not be entitled to receive spousal support.
  • This presumption can have a significant financial impact on divorce cases, potentially affecting the financial stability of the alleged abuser.
  1. Child Custody and Visitation:

  • When domestic violence is involved, the safety and well-being of any children from the marriage become a top priority. A domestic violence restraining order can greatly influence child custody and visitation arrangements.
  • The court will consider the best interests of the child and may limit or even prohibit visitation rights for the alleged abuser to ensure the child’s safety. The court may also require supervised visitation or implement other protective measures to safeguard the child’s welfare.
  1. Impact on the Divorce Timeline:

  • A domestic violence restraining order can potentially extend the duration of the divorce proceedings. The need for additional legal procedures, such as separate hearings for the restraining order and the divorce itself, can create delays.
  • The complexity of addressing domestic violence allegations may require gathering evidence, witness testimonies, and expert opinions, further prolonging the divorce timeline. It is important to be prepared for potentially extended legal processes when domestic violence is involved.
  1. Emotional and Psychological Effects:

  • Domestic violence can have severe emotional and psychological impacts on both parties involved in a divorce. The trauma experienced by the victim can affect their ability to navigate the divorce process effectively.
  • It is crucial for individuals facing domestic violence to seek emotional support and consider therapy or counseling to address the psychological effects. Additionally, consulting with a compassionate and experienced family law attorney can help provide guidance and support throughout the divorce proceedings.
Now let’s look at how certain laws from California Family Code Section 4325 regarding domestic violence and divorce can impact the financial aspects of a divorce settlement.
These laws come into play when there has been a conviction for domestic violence or abuse within a specific timeframe prior to or during the divorce proceedings.
Understanding these laws is essential for individuals navigating a divorce involving such circumstances, as they can have significant implications for spousal support and the division of assets.
By examining these legal provisions, we can gain insights into how they shape the financial outcomes of divorce cases marked by domestic violence.
  • In a divorce case, if one spouse has been convicted of committing domestic violence against the other spouse within the past five years, there is a legal presumption that the convicted spouse cannot receive spousal support (financial assistance) from the injured spouse (the victim).
  • If the injured spouse needs to hire a lawyer to help them with the divorce, the court may order the convicted spouse to pay for the lawyer’s fees using money from their joint assets, rather than requiring the injured spouse to use their own separate money.
  • The date of separation between the spouses, which is an important factor in divorce proceedings, can be changed to the date when the incident of domestic violence occurred or an earlier date if there are valid reasons for it.
  • The court has the discretion to consider other evidence, such as records or documents, that show the convicted spouse was also a victim of domestic violence or any other fair reasons to challenge the presumption mentioned earlier.
  • The court can decide that the injured spouse should receive all or a significant portion of the retirement and pension benefits accumulated during the marriage. This decision takes into account various factors, including the severity of the domestic violence, the timing of the incidents, the impact of unemployment due to domestic duties, the contribution of the convicted spouse to the other spouse’s education or career, the balance of hardships between the spouses, and any other factors the court deems fair and equitable.
  • These rules apply to cases where the conviction for domestic violence occurred on or after January 1, 2019.


A domestic violence restraining order carries significant implications for a California divorce. It can affect communication, housing arrangements, spousal support, child custody, and visitation.

The process may be further complicated, leading to potential delays in finalizing the divorce. Understanding these impacts and seeking appropriate legal and emotional support is essential for individuals involved in a divorce with allegations of domestic violence.

By working with a knowledgeable family law attorney and focusing on safety and well-being, individuals can navigate the challenges and pursue a fair resolution.