California law to better protect domestic violence victims now in effect
Anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence knows that taking action and ensuring personal safety after the incident can be difficult. Fortunately, for people in San Francisco County and other parts of California, a law that will make it easier for victims of domestic violence to escape from dangerous situations became effective on Jan. 1. Individuals who have been affected by this crime can benefit from understanding the scope of these legal changes and remembering their options for handling situations involving domestic violence.
Victims can break leases more easily
Under the new law, it will be easier for victims to provide documentation for breaking a lease. In the past, victims had to seek a court order or police report, which could be time-consuming or costly. The alternative choices that victims faced were paying rent at residences they no longer lived in, damaging their credit scores or continuing to live in potentially dangerous situations.
Now, landlords must accept a written statement from a counselor or medical professional as grounds for breaking a lease. This makes it easier for victims to quickly obtain the documentation that they need and end the lease without going through financial hardship or harming their credit scores. This change will help both victims who need to escape living with an abuser and victims who need to relocate after being followed or found by an abuser.
With domestic violence being a problem that affects many people, this legal change provides an opportunity to remind victims of their rights and options following a violent or otherwise abusive situation.
Dealing with domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence have options after they have reported the incident. Victims can file for a restraining order against the abuser and additional orders on behalf of any family members who have been abused as well. A restraining order can make the restrained person do all of the following:
- Cease contact with the victim and his or her family members.
- Move out of the house if it is shared with the victim.
- Pay spousal support, child support or even certain bills.
- Observe orders for child custody and visitation.
- Relinquish or return property.
A restraining order can touch on many of the areas that would be handled during a divorce, which is why victims of domestic violence can benefit from consulting with a family law attorney. A restraining order, however, cannot stand in for a legal dissolution; victims who wish to end a domestic partnership or marriage must seek a divorce or legal separation in addition to obtaining the restraining order.
Understanding the relevant law and the resources that are available can often be difficult for victims of domestic violence, which is why the advice of an attorney is invaluable in these situations. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, make certain to speak with an attorney about your means of protecting yourself and resolving any other legal issues concerning your abuser.