818-946-3100

Restraining Orders and Domestic Violence

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
-Helen Keller

Laurent Legal offers threat assessment, resources for domestic violence victims, and seeks or opposes restraining orders based on client needThe scope of Donna Laurent’s practice includes threat assessment, counseling, seeking and opposing physical protection through restraining orders, and ultimately finding resources available for those who have been abused or falsely accused. She represents clients at all levels of the restraining orders process (whether the matter is a stand-alone DVPA action or coupled with an underlying family law dissolution, separation or custody matter).  Laurent Legals regularly pursues or opposes all types of restraining orders including temporary orders (T.R.O.’s), final restraining orders that extend for a set period of time and even at hearings on the very rarely issued permanent orders.  Donna has diligently and effectively fought to seek or defend against requests for domestic violence restraining orders at hundreds of hearings and trials over the past 20 years.

Victims of Domestic Violence

At Laurent Legal, we embrace the principals of “trauma-informed” care in assisting our clients who are victims of domestic violence. In doing so, we recognize the devastating impact of violence and victimization. Our goal is to ensure client safety while creating trust through collaboration, empowerment and respect in an effect to minimize the possibility of re-traumatization while maximizing client choice in the legal process. Those who have been victim to acts of domestic violence tend to easily recognize that it is not as simple as one might think to just leave the situation.  Domestic violence occurs in many forms — ranging from overt physical battery to those that may appear as subtle as emotional degradation which, although incredibly painful, are often overlooked as an act of abuse. Whether abuse is physical, verbal or emotional, the actual decision to leave the relationship is complicated enough but when it requires the intervention of law enforcement and even court orders, the situation often goes from bad to worse.  The presence of children in the equation takes the decision to an even greater extreme.  It takes great strength to even make the first call to an attorney for these clients and Donna emphatically supports these initial steps by offering options and resources to help decide the most effective way to obtain immediate relief.  When welcomed by our clients, Laurent Legal will reach out to an established network of seasoned mental health professionals who are entrenched in the world of advocacy and support for victims of domestic violence.

It is commonly accepted by the courts and legislature that the impact of domestic violence on the children who witness it cannot be ignored when making child custody orders.  Children who have witnessed abuse and those who been the direct victims of abuse themselves — even if that abuse is the mere exposure to violence toward one parent by his/her partner (most often the child’s other parent) –must be provided all of the protection and support that a custody order can afford.  Statutory presumptions allow the family courts to consider the fact that one parent has been found to have perpetrated domestic violence as a basis for denying the perpetrator the right to legal and/or physical custody.  Of course, there are ways to defeat such a presumption and thus having an attorney with an intricate understanding of the law in this area is crucial to successfully achieving the appropriate orders.

The impact of violence has an effect on not only the custody orders in a family law matter but also the support orders.  The existence of domestic violence has been included a factor the court must consider in determining spousal support in California.  Having an attorney who has seen these cases from the perspective of both victim and perpetrator ensures that a comprehensive analysis of each parties’ position is included in decisions about how best to pursue protection and other related orders.

Law enforcement and legal process themselves often re-victimize those who have already been subjected to the devastation of the underlying abuse, adding insult to injury.  The nasty combination of the actual abuse combined with the experience of the legal system ultimately delivers an even further devastating impact on the families, and particularly on their children.  Research into this area has established that children who have been exposed to domestic violence are at significantly increased risk of both physical and long-lasting psychological harm.  Sometimes a vicious cycle can develop where the children of batterers grow up to become batterers themselves. The unfortunate realities of the litigation process can prove the last link in this arduous chain.  Donna Laurent firmly believe that this cycle must be broken: counseling, support, and education dramatically improve the quality of the lives of the families and children impacted by domestic violence.

Donna’s focus is to help shed light on the hope that exists for the victims and their children by not only seeking court orders for protection, financial support and custody, but also by facilitating the healing that can result from understanding that the victim and the children did not do anything to cause the abuse they were forced to endure.

Allegations of Domestic Violence

It is imperative that both victims of abuse, as well as those accused of such violence, seek the assistance of attorneys who are not only familiar with this critical area of the law but also familiar with the law enforcement and litigation process in the greater Los Angeles area. There have been significant changes over the years since the O. J. Simpson trial in how our law enforcement and court systems handles DV cases which have dramatically impacted the family law system.  During her years of  practice in this area, Donna Laurent has watched the evolution of this impact, which has resulted in an almost “no questions asked” policy where arrests are made merely because accusations have been launched.  While even frivolous accusations of abuse can give rise to a full criminal investigation and trigger the involvement of child protective services, Donna knows that there is always another side to every story.

Laurent Legal is well versed in the procedures of law enforcement, criminal courts, and child services investigations that often play into these family law matters. Donna is keenly aware of the cross-section of the rights of a client in a criminal courtroom, and the expectations that play out in the  family courtroom where DVPA cases are heard.  Donna has volunteered and worked in the criminal court system, and has exceptional insight into how to safeguard a client’s rights in the DVPA action pending in a family courtroom in order to avoid the client’s potential exposure in the criminal court context.

Donna is well aware that many of the clients we see who have been arrested or charged with false criminal complaints by a former spouse or partner angling to gain an advantage in other areas of a family law matter — most commonly in an attempt to manipulate custody orders.  Anytime false accusations present themselves, the client must seek immediate, experienced and aggressive representation from a family law attorney to prevent the legacy that these orders can carry into the family law system.  Any wrongful domestic violence conviction or finding by a court can pose a significant risk  to a litigant which could actually result in losing the right to legal custody and/or physical custody for many years.  In addition, there is great risk that access to the wrongfully-accused party’s children could be severely scrutinized and ultimately limited to only overwhelmingly expensive supervised or monitored visitation. Resulting orders from such findings by a criminal or family court may include mandatory participation in a 52-week batterer’s intervention program, the stringent requirement of ongoing counseling, and even the costly obligation to spend massive amounts of time attending parenting classes. The fact of such findings will also make the necessity of a court or private child custody evaluation inevitable. Advice from, and representation by, an attorney with the knowledge and experience to navigate this system is crucial when these rights are on the line.

Contact Our Law Office for Help

Domestic Violence is devastating to a family on so many levels.  It is essential that your rights, and those of your children, are protected by an attorney who is highly experienced in these areas of the law. Call Laurent Legal at 818-946-3100 or contact Donna online to schedule an appointment immediately.