2020 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 13 - Family Violence
Article 1 - Granting of Relief by Superior Courts
§ 19-13-1. "Family Violence" Defined

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-13-1 (2020)

As used in this article, the term "family violence" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household:

  1. Any felony; or
  2. Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

    The term "family violence" shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.

(Ga. L. 1981, p. 880, § 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1251, § 2; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1266, § 3; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1534, § 3.)

Law reviews.

- For article citing developments in Georgia juvenile court practice and procedure from mid-1980 through mid-1981, see 33 Mercer L. Rev. 167 (1981). For article, "Gender and Justice in the Courts: A Report to the Supreme Court of Georgia by the Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System," see 8 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 539 (1992). For survey article on domestic relations cases for the period from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003, see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 223 (2003). For annual survey of domestic relations law, see 58 Mercer L. Rev. 133 (2006). For article, "Polygyny and Violence Against Women," see 64 Emory L.J. 1767 (2015). For note on 1993 amendment of this Code section, see 10 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 95 (1993). For review of 1996 family violence legislation, see 13 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 101 (1996). For comment, "The Abuse of Animals as a Method of Domestic Violence: The Need for Criminalization," see 63 Emory L.J. 1163 (2014).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

"Family violence" defined broadly.

- Officers who investigated a claim of possible child abuse failed in their obligation to file a Family Violence Report, as required by O.C.G.A. § 17-4-20.1(c), and the trial court properly denied a motion for summary judgment pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-56 by the officers and others in a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased child as genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether their failure to investigate and file the necessary report proximately resulted in the child's injuries and death; the definition of "family violence" was broad under O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, and although "reasonable discipline" was excepted thereunder, the officers had an obligation to investigate allegations that a child was being whipped. Meagher v. Quick, 264 Ga. App. 639, 594 S.E.2d 182 (2003).

"Family violence" arrest warrant.

- Whether an arrest warrant labeled "Domestic Violence" was the correct label used to arrest the plaintiff for an offense related to a domestic violence case but not a crime of domestic violence under O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1 was irrelevant to the plaintiff's civil rights claim that the defendant violated the Fourteenth Amendment by falsely swearing a domestic violence warrant against the plaintiff. Smith v. Mercer, F. Supp. 2d (N.D. Ga. May 13, 2008).

Family violence not likely to resume justifying modification of protective order.

- Restrained party who seeks termination of a family violence permanent protective order must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a material change in circumstances has occurred, such that the resumption of family violence is not likely and justice would be served by termination of the order and in reviewing cases such as this, a court should look to the totality of the circumstances. Furthermore, circumstances a court should consider when considering modifying a family violence permanent protective order include: the present nature of the parties' relationship; the restrained party's history of compliance with the protective order and history of violence; the restrained party's efforts to undergo therapy; the age and health of the restrained party; any undue hardships suffered as a result of the order; and, the existence and nature of any objections the victim has to termination. Mandt v. Lovell, 293 Ga. 807, 750 S.E.2d 134 (2013).

Acts between siblings within scope of Family Violence Act.

- Given the unambiguous language in O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, and given that it was common for siblings to live in the same household at some point in their lives, the appellate court concluded that the legislature intended to include the commission of certain acts between siblings within the scope of the Family Violence Act, O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1 et seq., and, thus, the trial court had jurisdiction to enter a protective order against the brother, and the brother's motion for a new trial was without merit. Jones v. Spruill, 337 Ga. App. 200, 786 S.E.2d 848 (2016).

Modification of permanent protective order.

- Appellate court properly upheld the modification of a permanent protection order issued in a family violence matter between parents because O.C.G.A. § 19-13-4(c) contemplated that the duration of such orders could be modified based on changing conditions and circumstances, and the father sufficiently alleged such changed circumstances, including that neither party had custody of the child. Mandt v. Lovell, 293 Ga. 807, 750 S.E.2d 134 (2013).

Service of process insufficient.

- Service upon a spouse against whom a temporary protective order had been granted under the Georgia Family Violence Act, O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1 et seq., was insufficient. The original service provided the spouse with no notice of the allegations, and service upon the spouse as the spouse left a hearing in the case was improper under the rule insulating a party in attendance upon the trial of a case from service of process. Loiten v. Loiten, 288 Ga. App. 638, 655 S.E.2d 265 (2007).

Failure to hold hearing within 30 days.

- Protective order imposed against an ex-husband was reversed because after the court deadlines were suspended, tolled or extended during a judicial emergency due to inclement weather, expiration of a 30-day period to hold a hearing was September 25, as opposed to September 27, when the hearing was held, and since the hearing was not held within 30 days of filing the petition, the petition should have been dismissed. Smith v. Smith, 350 Ga. App. 647, 829 S.E.2d 886 (2019).

Evidence sufficient for assault conviction but inadequate for impact on parental rights.

- Although the evidence was sufficient to support a finding that the father committed an assault against the mother when the father threatened the mother and pointed a gun at the mother outside their home, because that incident took place outside the presence of the children, as the uncontradicted record showed that the children were inside the house asleep, there was no evidence that any of the children saw or heard the exchange between their mother and father, and none of the testimony offered by the Department of Family and Children Services established an act of abuse on the part of the father sufficient to warrant a finding of dependency; thus, there was insufficient evidence for the juvenile court to find the father's children dependent. In the Interest of K. D., 344 Ga. App. 423, 810 S.E.2d 193 (2018).

In a domestic dispute case between the defendant, a father, and the defendant's adult children, the evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of simple battery because both of the defendant's sons testified that the defendant made the altercation physical when the defendant shoved the defendant's youngest son after the defendant's youngest son defensively tried to put physical distance between the youngest son and the defendant; and neither the battery nor family violence statutes permitted a parent to corporally punish an adult child. Anderson v. State, 348 Ga. App. 322, 822 S.E.2d 684 (2018).

Insufficient evidence.

- Trial court erred in finding that a guardian proved by a preponderance of the evidence, as required under O.C.G.A. § 19-13-3(a), that a mother committed an act of family violence pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, as there was insufficient evidence that the mother committed an act of violence, specifically simple battery in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23, as opposed to administering reasonable discipline in the form of corporal punishment, as O.C.G.A. § 16-5-23 specifically exempted corporal punishment from the definition of battery, and the appellate court determined after considering O.C.G.A. §§ 16-3-20 and20-2-731 that the alleged action of the mother in slapping her daughter did not rise to the level of unreasonable discipline. Buchheit v. Stinson, 260 Ga. App. 450, 579 S.E.2d 853 (2003).

Sufficient evidence.

- Protective order against a former wife was warranted under the Family Violence Act, O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, because there was sufficient evidence that she committed the predicate act of stalking her former husband by hiring a detective to follow him, by harassing him at his place of work, and by sending him threatening text messages. Quinby v. Rausch, 300 Ga. App. 424, 685 S.E.2d 395 (2009).

No finding of dependency when children did not witness domestic violence.

- Clear and convincing evidence did not support the dependency finding because no evidence was presented that the child was ever present for, witnessed, or heard any of the alleged instances of domestic violence between the parents. In the Interest of M. S., 352 Ga. App. 249, 834 S.E.2d 343 (2019).

Cited in Roberson v. State, 186 Ga. App. 808, 368 S.E.2d 568 (1988); McCracken v. State, 224 Ga. App. 356, 480 S.E.2d 361 (1997); In the Interest of T. S., 348 Ga. App. 263, 820 S.E.2d 773 (2018).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

C.J.S.

- 28 C.J.S., Domestic Abuse and Violence, § 1 et seq.

ALR.

- "Cohabitation" for purposes of domestic violence statutes, 71 A.L.R.5th 285.

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