Our latest successful appeal makes it easier for domestic violence survivors to renew restraining orders. Priscila N. v. Leonardo G. extends the protections of FVAP’s Nov. 15 legal victory (Garcia v. Escobar), by clarifying for the first time that California family courts can renew restraining orders issued by juvenile courts. Many thanks to our co-counsel in this important case, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, especially arguing attorney Joanna McCallum. Thanks also to California Women’s Law Center and Pepper Hamilton LLP for submitting a compelling amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief about the legislative issues and implications.
In its published decision in Priscila N., the 2nd District Court of Appeal says family and juvenile courts statewide should work together to broadly apply domestic violence laws in order to best protect survivors. This decision is significant for domestic violence survivors statewide, 80% of whom must represent themselves in court, (either because they cannot afford or do not have access to an attorney), since renewing an existing DVRO is much easier and less expensive than obtaining a brand new order. A renewed DVRO also comes with longer-lasting protection; While new DVROs can only be issued for periods of 1, 3, or 5-years, DVRO renewals are issued for either 5-years or permanently.
This new legal precedent means survivors will have to go to court less often, because renewed restraining orders last longer than initial orders, which saves survivors the expense and trauma of repeatedly having to face their abusers in court. The decision also says family and juvenile courts statewide should work together to broadly apply domestic violence laws in order to best protect survivors.