Marriage of F.M. & M.M.Annotate this Case
In 2018, Mother filed a petition for dissolution of the parties’ marriage. The parties resided together with their six children, ages three-13. Mother was a stay-at-home parent and the primary caregiver. Mother stated that Father had abused her throughout their marriage. For six months, the family continued to reside together. In August 2019, Mother filed a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) application seeking orders forbidding Father from committing abuse, compelling him to stay away and to move out of their shared residence, and to be restrained from traveling with their children.
Father was ordered not to abuse Mother and to stay at least five yards away from her. The court denied Mother’s other requests pending a hearing. Father denied committing any violence, claiming that Mother harassed him. The DVRO matter was heard over several days in late 2019. The court ordered Mother to move out of the home. Father was denied visitation. Mother, at various points, was living in a motel and out of her car with the children. The trial court found insufficient evidence to grant a DVRO.
The court of appeal reversed. The trial court erroneously refused to consider evidence of abuse committed following the filing of the DVRO application, failed to properly evaluate the evidence that it heard, and improperly found that physical separation alone could substitute for the legal protections afforded by a restraining order.