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New law encourages survivors of domestic violence to seek restraining orders

Domestic Violence July 27, 2021
Posted at 9:29 AM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 12:29:17-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill has been signed into law encouraging more survivors in California to seek domestic violence restraining orders.

Assembly Bill 2369 requires the court to order abusers to pay for a survivor’s attorney’s fees and costs.

In many instances, courts require domestic violence survivors to meet higher standards than their abusers when awarding attorney’s fees in domestic violence restraining order cases.

Because of these higher standards, many attorneys are reluctant to take on survivors’ cases and survivors are often discouraged from filing their requests in the first place.

AB 2369

Existing law establishes the Domestic Violence Prevention Act for the purpose of preventing acts of domestic violence, abuse, and sexual abuse and providing for a separation of the persons involved in the domestic violence for a period sufficient to enable those persons to seek a resolution of the causes of the violence. Existing law authorizes a court to issue a protective order enjoining a party from engaging in specified acts, including threatening or harassing the other party or disturbing the peace of the other party. Existing law authorizes a court to issue an order for the payment of attorney's fees and costs of the prevailing party.

Existing law also requires the court to order that the respondent pay petitioner's attorney's fees and costs, in any action in which the petitioner is the prevailing party and cannot afford to pay for the attorney's fees, if appropriate, as specified.

This bill would instead, after notice and a hearing, and upon request, require a court to issue an order for the payment of attorney's fees and costs for a prevailing petitioner. The bill would authorize a court, after notice and a hearing, and upon request, to issue an order for the payment of attorney's fees and costs for a prevailing respondent only if the respondent establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the petition or request is frivolous or solely intended to abuse, intimidate, or cause unnecessary delay. The bill would require the court, before awarding attorney's fees and costs, to first find that the party ordered to pay has, or is reasonably likely to have, the ability to pay.