Family Law

Family Law News 2018, Issue 3, Volume 40, No. 3

Family Justice Center

Roz Bateman Smith

Roz Bateman Smith, Esq. has practiced exclusively in the area of Family Law since passing the California State Bar examination in February of 2013. Prior to becoming an attorney, she enjoyed a 26-year career with the Sonoma County Superior Court. As an attorney, she sits on the Sonoma County DV Death Review Committee, Sonoma County Mental Health Liaison Committee, and is a Legislative Liaison for FLEXCOM.

There was a time in California when victims of domestic violence or other physical assault would be sent (many times with their children in tow) to multiple agencies for assistance. Finally, they would have their paperwork together and head to the courthouse at the appointed time. It was then they would learn their declarations weren’t sufficiently descriptive, they hadn’t given proper notice to the offender, they were too late for their paperwork to be considered – or any other multitude of reasons their request would be denied.

But sometimes the request would be granted. In that case, these women (85% of domestic violence victims are women1) were given instructions that "These orders must be personally served on the other party by someone other than you who is over the age of 18. Or, you can take the forms to the Sheriff’s Department and ask them to serve for you." Seems simple enough. The thing is, this individual has possibly just been beaten up, has a low educational or English-speaking ability, has spent the day or days going from organization to organization trying to get help, and doesn’t know what the heck you are talking about. Or the person has been working up the courage to get this restraining order only to be so intimidated by the process, they give up. Statistics show that on average it takes a victim of domestic violence seven attempts before finally being able to leave.2 Perhaps a part of the inability to get out of the relationship is the intimidation factor of facing the bureaucracy of jumping through hoops.

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