Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support and Spousal Support Orders Can Now Be Obtained and Maintained in a Domestic Violence Action

On January 1, 2011, the revised Family Code section 6340 will go into effect.  It allows orders for custody, visitation and support (including child support and spousal support) made during an action for a domestic violence restraining order to survive the termination of a protective order.

Currently, the court can only make custody, visitation and support orders that coincide with a valid protective order which can remain in place for up to 5 years.  Therefore, before this new law, when a restraining order expired or was dismissed, the custody, visitation and support orders would terminate.  This meant the parties had to re-establish these orders in a divorce or paternity action. Under the new law, any order for custody, visitation or support would continue to be enforceable despite the fact it was made in conjunction with a protective order.

While this law is obviously helpful, one potential pitfall of this new law could be the clogging of domestic violence courtrooms because now courts will have to accommodate applications for modifications of orders for custody, visitation and support.  Another question arises as to whether new forms will need to be created.  One thing is for certain: This law will reduce the costs and time parties spend in court.  However, since it is a new law, we will not know whether it will work as well as it sounds until next year.