“Dating Relationship” in modern day terms under the DVPA

To obtain a domestic violence restraining order, the person requesting protection must show two things: (1) that the restrained person has abused or threatened to abuse the person requesting protection, and (2) the person requesting protection has a “close relationship” with the person to be restrained. The close relationship can fall into several categories, including someone that you were or are married to, someone that you live or lived with, someone you are related to, or someone that you are dating or used to date.

This may seem simple, but sometimes relationships become “complicated” and it can be difficult to know if you are in a “dating relationship” with someone for purposes of obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. Family Code Section 6210 provided a technical definition of dating relationship: “frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations.”

Recent jurisprudence has provided guidance by clarifying the definition of “dating relationship” as it pertains to the DVPA.  In Phillips v. Campbell, the Appellate court found that the trial court has the power to factually find a “dating relationship” within the meaning of the DVPA even where the parties characterize their relationship as a friendship that does not involve dating as that term is commonly understood. Phillips, 2 Cal. App. 5th at 846. The court reasoned that a dating relationship can be established where “all the evidence shows that there was an expectation of affection or desire to have affection.” Id. At 851. The court found that an expectation of affection was demonstrated by: the emotional nature of the communications between the parties- often via text messages, the amount of time the parties spent together, the fact that Campbell had stayed at Phillips’ home for several days on at least one occasion, the fact that Campbell sent nude photos of himself to Phillips and the fact that Campbell testified at trial that he thought Phillips was falling in love with him. Id. at 848.  

Because of Phillips, a “dating relationship” can now be found where the parties were not dating, as the term is traditionally understood, so long as the totality of the circumstances shows that a “dating relationship” existed within the meaning of § 6210. In other words, Phillips has defined dating in terms consistent with modern relationships.

If you do not meet the requirements for a “dating relationship” to obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, you may still be able to obtain a Civil Harassment Order (“CHO”) restraining the other party.

To obtain a civil harassment restraining order, you must show that (1) the person to be restrained has abused, threatened to abuse, sexually assaulted, stalked or seriously harassed you, and (2) you are scared or seriously annoyed or harassed. Like DVRO’s, CHOs have requirements as to the type of relationship that must or must not exist between the person to be restrained and the person to be protected. Unlike DVRO’s, if a person wishes to obtain a CHO, the person cannot be someone they have dated.

If you have questions about which restraining order is right for you, the attorneys at ADZ Law, LLP can help. Please call us at 650 458 2300.