California Court Defines “Dwelling” For Purposes of Restraining Orders

While many people mistakenly believe that domestic violence is a problem that only affects younger people, it is an unfortunate fact that domestic violence can and does occur in every facet of society. If a court finds a party’s claims of domestic violence credible, it will typically draft a domestic violence restraining order limiting contact based on the unique circumstances of the case. In some cases, the meaning of the terms of the order may not be clear due to extenuating factors. This was evidenced in a recent domestic violence case in which the court addressed the meaning of the term “dwelling” with regards to restrictions imposed on an elderly divorced couple that lived in the same building. If you or a loved one are the victim of domestic violence or you have been accused of domestic violence it is important to consult a knowledgeable California family law attorney as soon as possible to handle your case.

Reportedly, the former husband and former wife were an elderly couple that continued to live in the same apartment building after dissolving their marriage. Their relationship was especially contentious, and they routinely engaged in legal action against one another. In this particular instance, the husband requested an elder abuse restraining order and the wife requested a domestic violence restraining orders against the husband, due to various alleged acts of abuse.

Following a hearing, the court granted both the husband’s and the wife’s request. The order against the wife stated that the wife was prohibited from entering the husband’s dwelling. The husband subsequently appealed the trial court ruling. He argued, in part, that the trial court erred in defining his “dwelling” as his apartment unit and not the entire building. The court rejected the husband’s arguments and denied his appeal.

Meaning of the Term Dwelling Under the Elder Abuse Act

On appeal, the court noted that under the Elder Abuse Act, an elder who has suffered abuse can seek an order preventing his or her abuser from entering his or her residence or dwelling. The court found that the husband, who was 82-years-old qualified as an elder and therefore the act applied to him. The court was not convinced by the husband’s argument that his “dwelling” should constitute the entire building, however. The court noted that there was no case law in support of the husband’s position. Further, the court stated that several different California statutes defined a dwelling as a single unit. Moreover, the court found that the Elder Abuse Act only permitted the court to prevent an abuser from entering the petitioner’s dwelling, which it construed to mean a single unit. Thus, the court found that the trial court accurately interpreted the word dwelling.

Meet with a Skilled California Family Law Attorney About Your Domestic Violence Claim

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of their age, gender, or socioeconomic class. If you or a loved one are the victim of domestic violence or you have been accused of committing domestic violence you should meet with a seasoned California family law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Ethan Weisinger is a skilled California family law attorney who will help you pursue your desired result in a discrete and efficient manner.  You can reach Mr. Weisinger at (925)258-2020 or find us at to schedule a confidential consultation.

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