Emergency Protective Orders Available During Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated life for people worldwide and has been devastating for high-risk individuals and their families.

One group of people who may be at increased risk of harm during the COVID-19 outbreak is victims of domestic violence. The New York Times reports that movement restrictions aimed at containing the virus have resulted in an uptick in in-home violence, as well as violence that’s more severe and frequent.

For victims of domestic violence, getting help in the time of coronavirus can feel impossible.

Not only are victims required to stay home unless leaving for essential activities, but the courts are also closed right now, which means that any family law actions have been temporarily put on hold. However, despite court closures, victims of domestic violence can still seek emergency protection orders.

California Courts have issued guidance for those victims of domestic violence who need a restraining order.

Rather than filing papers with the court–as is the standard course of action when the courts are open and operating as normal–a victim of domestic violence should call the police and request an emergency protective order (EPO). For those who are in an emergency situation where their safety and physical wellbeing are at risk, there should be no hesitation to call 9-1-1 to get emergency help and request an EPO.

The police have the authority to request an EPO that can be used to protect victims and their children against domestic abuse, stalking, and being kidnapped.

“Our law firm recognizes that while closures and stay-at-home orders are necessary to protect society and reduce the spread of COVID-19, there are some people who are going to be very adversely affected by the orders,” explained family law attorney Terry Szucsko of Lvovich & Szucsko, P.C., “Our lawyers are available to help victims of domestic violence seek restraining orders during this time, as well as prepare for hearings as soon as the court reopens. We are committed to helping victims get the services they need during this troubling and trying time.”

For those who are already protected by restraining orders that were issued while the court was opened, the restraining order may be automatically be extended for up to 30 days.

Local courts have posted guidance for victims of domestic violence who need to learn more about that status of existing restraining orders or/and changes in court dates. While all family law trials and evidentiary hearings have been vacated in California courts, requests for domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) trials will remain on the calendar but will be continued by the court for 21 days, as of April 1, 2020.

If you are a victim of domestic violence who has questions about resources and help available to you, do not hesitate to contact Lvovich & Szucsko P.C..

In addition to legal counsel, you can also seek shelter at a local domestic violence shelter or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.