Recently, the California Court of Appeals issued a ruling on a case in which an ex-wife appealed a Los Angeles trial court’s decision to deny her a permanent renewal of her domestic violence restraining order against her ex-husband.
Baldwin Eneaji v. Pamela Chimezi Ubboe
Baldwin Eneaji and Pamela Chimezi Ubboe were going through a divorce case in Los Angeles County Superior Court. During these proceedings, Ubboe requested a domestic violence restraining order against her ex-husband. In her request, the ex-wife alleged that her ex-husband had a long history of verbal and physical abuse during their seven-year marriage. She detailed many occurrences where her ex-husband would become angry with her, throw her against a wall, slap or punch her, and even threaten to kill her.
The court ordered a three-year restraining order against Eneaji requiring him to stay at least 100 yards away from his ex-wife, her home, job and vehicle as well as to not abuse, threaten or harass her in any way.
After three years had passed, the ex-wife requested a permanent renewal of the restraining order. In her renewal request, she cited her continued fear of her ex-husband. Additionally, she stated that during the past three years, her ex-husband would attempt to communicate with her, violating the restraining order. On one occasion, the ex-husband saw her at a store, tried to get her to come to him, and he waited outside of the store to talk to her.
The court denied Ubboe’s request because the court felt that she did not show that she had a “reasonable apprehension of future physical abuse” from her ex-husband.
The trial court explained that because nothing happened during the three years the restraining order was in effect, and there was only one instance where the ex-husband spoke to her at a store, this was not enough to show that Ubboe had a reasonable fear of future physical abuse. She immediately sought an appeal with the California Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeal’s Decision
The Court of Appeals held that the court’s denial of the renewal request was erroneous.
First, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court was mistaken in denying the renewal request on the grounds that nothing happened during the three years the restraining order was in effect. For a permanent renewal of a domestic violence restraining order, California law does not require showing that actual acts of abuse occurred (California Family Code Section 6345(a)).
Second, the court held it was wrong of the trial court to require the woman to show she had a reasonable apprehension of future physical abuse from her ex-husband. The court held that only a reasonable fear or apprehension of future abuse was needed, whether it involves a fear of physical abuse, harassment, stalking or other abuse (Ritchie v. Konrad (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 1275, 1290; and California Family Code Sections 6203 and 6320).
What Does this Decision Mean for Your Family Law Case?
The decision by the Court of the Appeals makes it easier to obtain a permanent domestic violence restraining order in all future divorce cases. If a restraining order is being filed against you, your best—and possibly only—way to make sure it doesn’t affect you for the rest of your life is to hire an experienced family law attorney right away to prevent the restraining order request from being granted.
Call the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are involved in a divorce or family law case, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced family law attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully handling family law matters. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich family law attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
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