Definition of Domestic Violence

A sizable portion of the California Family Code deals with the prevention of domestic violence. The reasons for these provisions are clear. Domestic violence divides families and all too often animals are left unprotected, abandoned and without a home when violence occurs. This may because of displacement, an arrest, or because parties are being sheltered. I support and welcome this addition to the Code. The Code defines domestic violence broadly in FC 6203: 'For purposes of this act, 'abuse' means any of the following: (a) Intentionally or recklessly to cause or attempt to cause bodily injury. (b) Sexual assault. (c) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another. (d) To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to FC 6320.'

FC 6203 is Expanded by FC 6320

Subsection (d) creates a very broad power and references FC 6320 which lists a panoply of acts where a court may intervene, including enjoining a party from molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, annoying telephone calls as described in Penal Code (PC) 653m, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members." Clearly threats of violence amount to domestic violence. Actual violence does too, of course. Under FC 6320, constant telephone calls, emails, text messages or other forms of unwanted aggravation could also amount to domestic violence, depending on the level of abuse.

What is Considered Domestic?

Domestic violence is not all violence. Quarrels between unrelated neighbors on the streets, or strangers at the local club are not governed by the Code.

Which Relationships are Governed?

Family Code Section 6211 describes which relationships are governed by the Code: '6211. 'Domestic violence'' is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons: (a) A spouse or former spouse. (b) A cohabitant or former cohabitant, as defined in Section 6209. (c) A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship. (d) A person with whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent under the Uniform Parentage Act (Part 3 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 12). (e) A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected. (f) Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree.

Painting Featured on this Page

The art featured on this page is photo of a painting commonly know as 'The Royal End' or 'Arii Matimoe' by Paul Gaugin. The painting is that of a severed head of a man and is owned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.