Michael M. v. Robin J. (Published) – Survivor’s Retaliatory or Angry Motives for Renewing a DVRO Does Not Mean There is Not a Genuine Fear of Future Abuse
The survivor asked the trial court to renew her domestic violence restraining order because her former boyfriend had physically attacked her 5 months after the initial DVRO was issued, violated the DVRO by texting her directly instead of using the Talking Parent platform, physically abused the parties’ minor child, and refused to pay child support. Despite this evidence, the trial court denied the survivor’s request to renew her DVRO because there had been no violations of the DVRO in the “past several years” and it believed the survivor’s fear of her former boyfriend was not credible because it found that there were other circumstances that led to the survivor filing the request. The appellate court reversed and renewed the survivor’s DVRO. The appellate court concluded that the trial court was wrong to 1) require the survivor to show evidence of a recent act of abuse or a recent violation of the DVRO, 2) determine that an “unquestionably violation” of the DVRO was not “really” a violation, and 3) “infer a retaliatory motive from the mere timing of [the survivor’s] renewal request” and reject her claim of fear of future abuse on that basis alone. Significantly, the appellate court noted “anger and fear are not mutually exclusive” so even if the survivor did have a retaliatory motive for asking the court to renew her restraining order this did not negate her reasonable fear of future abuse.
FVAP is thankful to have co-counseled this matter with Covington & Burling, LLP.
The appellate court’s published opinion can be found here.