Domestic Violence

California’s court system handles thousands of cases each year involving domestic violence (sometimes referred to as "family" or "intimate partner" violence). Some of those cases are handled in the criminal court system, while others proceed through the family or juvenile court system. Information on domestic violence for those case types can be found below. Resources for victims and litigants are available on the California Courts Self-Help Center which includes court forms, instructions, and information about restraining orders and other court processes.


Learn more about domestic violence in family law cases. If your case involves children, learn more about custody and visitation.

Some families experiencing domestic violence will become involved with the juvenile court. If the county child protective services (CPS) agency investigates allegations and a court determines that a child is at risk of harm in the home, the court may make the child a dependent of the court. Learn more about juvenile dependency court. If a child breaks the law or is beyond parental control, the county probation office may investigate and the child may be involved with juvenile delinquency court. Learn more about juvenile delinquency court.

The Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) provides programs and education to address cases involving domestic violence in California in a variety of ways, including providing specialized resources for the courts; developing rules, forms, and legislation; offering education to judicial officers and court professionals; and disseminating research and publications.


CFCC organizes training and educational programs which focus on how courts and court-connected professionals address domestic and family violence. View materials from some past conferences and trainings. Specific efforts include providing regular trainings for mediators, child custody recommending counselors, evaluators, investigators, court clerks, and judicial officers several times throughout the year. These trainings offer valuable information on domestic violence and promote best practices throughout the state. Technical assistance is provided to courts that are developing procedures for handling domestic violence cases.

Family and juvenile dependency mediators and child custody evaluators must handle cases involving domestic violence according to state laws and rules of court and must have local protocols consistent with statutory requirement and statewide rules. Learn more.

Violence Against Women Education Project (VAWEP)

The VAWEP provides the courts with information, educational materials, and training on the court’s role in responding to these cases. VAWEP is funded by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services with resources from the federal Office on Violence Against Women to support the superior courts in creating a more effective response to cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, teen dating violence and human trafficking. 

Violence Against Women Education Project Fact Sheet

Resources and Judicial Tools on Family Violence in Tribal Communities

Emergency Protective Order Bench Guide

An emergency protective order (EPO) is a short-term restraining order that can protect you if you have an emergency with domestic abuse, or if someone is hurting or threatening to hurt you or your children. EPOs are granted by a judge, and requested by a police officer. This guide is designed for judges who decide on EPO requests, and can be used by others who are involved in the process.

Professional Supervised Visitation: A Safety Tool for Judges and Families
Listen - 21:54  (Transcript)

This episode highlights the important role judges and providers play in keeping families safe when domestic violence is alleged or found. 

You will hear from:

  • Shelly La Botte, Senior Analyst at the Judicial Council of California
  • Judge Brooke Blecher, Superior Court of Santa Clara
  • And a recap from people from episode 1 (Mary, Crystal, and Judge Victor Hwang)

 

Rules Are Not Meant to Be Broken: The Important Role of Supervised Visitation and Professional Providers 
Listen - 28:52   
(Transcript)

The supervised visitation process is known to few people. You likely only know about it if you’ve used this service or knew someone that had to. In this episode, you will learn about how the supervised visitation process works, and the important role professional providers have in keeping families safe, especially in cases involving domestic violence.

You will hear from:

  • "Mary" and "Crystal", survivors of domestic violence
  • Judge Victor Hwang, Superior Court Judge in San Francisco
  • Sonia Melara, Executive Director, Rally Family Visitation Services
  • Sarah Jacobvitz, Senior Staff Attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid
  • Julia Scott, co-producer of this episode, as narrator

 

A Journey to Healing: How One Tribe Incorporates a Traditional Approach to Address Domestic Violence
Listen · 37:15    
(Transcript)

Before you listen: Please be aware that this episode includes first-person accounts of domestic violence. The people sharing them agreed to do so in hopes that others might benefit from what they’ve learned.

Native American women — and men — are;more likely than white counterparts to experience intimate partner violence. That violence is often grounded in trauma that impacts whole communities. For indigenous people, it can be traced back to colonization as well as to racism and oppression that persists today. In this episode, you’ll hear members of California’s Yurok Tribe talk about the impact of domestic violence, and how the tribal court worked to put in place a culturally-relevant, and more effective, path to healing.

In this episode, you will hear from:

  • “Mark” and “Lydia” who share their personal experiences
  • The Honorable Abbi Abinanti, Elder and Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe
  • Lori Nesbitt, Facilitator of the Yurok Batterers Intervention Program/Yurok Tribal Court Opioid Program Manager
  • Lee Romney, producer of this episode, as narrator

 

An Invisible Epidemic: A Survivor’s Story and What Courts Should Know About Traumatic Brain Injury
Listen · 34:08   
(Transcript)

 

This podcast shines light on a condition that Dr. Eve Valera describes as an epidemic that our society does not know enough about. The condition is traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, in women who have experienced intimate partner violence. As Dr. Valera explains, what we know about TBIs is mostly based on research in men, specifically military members and professional athletes. Listen to this podcast to hear the personal impact of TBI on a survivor; what we know about TBI in intimate partner violence victims and survivors; and what lawyers, judges and other professionals in the court system can do to better accommodate victims and survivors.

In this podcast you will hear from:

  • “Mary”, a survivor of intimate partner violence
  • Dr. Eve Valera, Researcher and Associate Professor, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard Medical School
  • The Honorable Julie Emede, Judge, Superior Court of Santa Clara County
  • Mervyn Degaños, podcast producer, as narrator

 

These episodes were supported by a subgrant awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program.  The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Domestic Violence Safety Partnership

The Domestic Violence Safety Partnership (DVSP) was developed to enhance safety and improve practices and protocols in the handling of domestic violence cases. A court that participates in the DVSP uses the Domestic Violence Safety Partnership Self-Assessment—a tool furnished by the Judicial Council—to examine its own practices and needs in the handling of domestic violence cases, especially in relation to legal mandates. The court may then seek technical assistance from the Judicial Council.

The Judicial Council of California is responsible for developing statewide rules of court, court forms, and legislation relevant to court administration. Each of these areas may involve domestic violence issues. To review current and recent proposals, please click on the relevant link below:
Recent Proposals

To review rules of court, court forms, and court-related legislation, please click on the relevant link below.  If you are interested in domestic violence specifically, please search within these sections for "domestic violence."
Statewide Rules of Court
Forms
Court-Related Legislation