Family Law

Family Law News VOLUME 45, ISSUE 1, FALL 2023

REPRODUCTIVE COERCION IN CALIFORNIA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW

Written by Judge Mark Juhas*

California has a forty-plus year history of protecting domestic violence victims and survivors. The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) initially started out in the Code of Civil Procedure, and ultimately became part of the Family Code, where it now resides1 The legislature recently made two significant additions to Family Code section 6320; effective in 2021 the legislature statutorily defined "coercive control" 2 and beginning in 2022 the legislature further expanded coercive control to include reproductive coercion3

"Coercive control" is a statutory subset of "disturbing the peace". Specifically, section 63204 defines "coercive control" as: "a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty"5 As of 2021, the section provided further explanation:

Following these 2021 amendments, the Judicial Council quickly changed the mandatory DV forms to reflect this new language. The DV-100 request for restraining order now contains a plain language definition of disturbing the peace, including coercive control6 The DV-130’s orders closely parallel the DV-100’s language.

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