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lawjeff
lawjeff, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 10
Experience:  California Lawyer with 20 Years Family Law Experience
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My father is in the process of a rather bitter divorce. My

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My father is in the process of a rather bitter divorce. My stepmother has two daughters, the eldest has a history of drug abuse, stealing from our family, is extremely disrespectful and belligerent, and a younger daughter who is equally disrespectful, belligerent and has a violent temper. My stepmother has done nothing to control their behavior. My sister and her boyfriend reside at my fathers home, a home that is a joint ownership between my Dad and stepmother. My stepmothers youngest daughter also resides there. This past weekend, my father, who is working several hundred miles away, came to visit for the weekend. The youngest daughter ranted and raved with a foul mouth and threats toward my father, sister and her boyfriend for well over an hour and a half. She was extremely violent, intimidating and we are wondering what is the "fine line" between a person "running their mouth", compared to and an outright threat is construed as by the law, and when the police should/or can be summoned to address the issue if she behaves like this again. She is over 18, is a guest in their home, just as my sister and her boyfriend are. I need to duly state that the youngest daughters behavior is not an isolated incident. She has a history of this type of behavior, has purposely damaged and vandalized my fathers car, she has caused a great amount of stress to my father, sister and her boyfriend, and again, my stepmother has done nothing to control this behavior.

What are our rights as a family to protect ourselves from this repeated verbal abuse, and in terms of recording this on tape or video, is there a consensual element that needs to be satisfied in order to be admissible in court? How can we record the behavior legally to use it, to demonstrate the vile behavior we have had to endure. Also, are there any "key words" that we need as a signal to summon the police when she becomes like this?

Any help and insights is most appreciated.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  lawjeff replied 2 years ago.

lawjeff :

Hello. I can answer your question as a California attorney. It is illegal in our state to tape a conversation with another persons consent.

lawjeff :

Usually, witness testimony in these situations is preferable to video or audio tape.

lawjeff :

Hello Wayne Masters are you ready to chat?

Customer:

Hi Jeff

Customer:

Thank-you for your input

Customer:

When she behaves like this, at what point can we call the police to have them address her violent behavior?

lawjeff :

You can call the police anytime she is violent towards people or damaging vehicles or other property. I think you may want to consider a restraining order.

Customer:

How do we seek a restraining order when she is a guest in the house with her mothers permission? Is there a code of conduct in the "common area" of the house that guests have to abide by?

lawjeff :

If I understand the family situation correctly your Dad and Stepmother are on title to the home and your sister and bf live there, right?

Customer:

Yes, that is correct. My Dad just signed a notarized agreement, with written proof that my sister and bf are allowed to live in the home as his guests for as long as they wish.

lawjeff :

Do Dad & Stepmom live in the house too?

Customer:

My Dad works in Nor Cal, and is staying at a temp housing arrangement for his job, while my stepmom lives on property.

Customer:

Dad just came to visit this weekend, for the first time in a month.

lawjeff :

As long as your sister has a right to be in the house (Dad's permission) she could file for a restraining order.

Customer:

Now, what would be the conditions of a restraining order to be granted?

Customer:

To give you a bit of an insight to their behavior... when my sister or her bf go downstairs to get something from the kitchen, my stepsisters run their mouths, and make comments toward them to try and incite and cause a reaction with my sister and bf.

Customer:

Also with my father when he is there

Customer:

It is extremely stressful for all of them (Dad, Sis and BF)

lawjeff :

It is possible for a child to be restrained from her mother's house. Then your stepsister(s) would need to find somewhere else to live. I agree that this is less likely because they have there stepmother's permission.

Customer:

So the verbal abuse that my stepsisters have been displaying

Customer:

the threats and violent behavior

Customer:

at what point do we call the police?

Customer:

What are some"keywords" we need to be aware of?

lawjeff :

Often a divorce case will result in the sale of the family home anyway. Yes you would need threats or violent behavior for police or a restraining order. I think both law enforcement and the court look for actual violence or credible threat of violence.

Customer:

Is there any behavior conduct in the "common area" that has to be abided by all who are in the house? Or do you just sue them for damages?

lawjeff :

Well this isn't really a landlord/tenant situation because nobody is renting to anyone else. I think the DVPO or law enforcement are better alternatives.

Customer:

Ok, help me understand this better. Let me demonstrate with a hypothetical situation. My Dad comes back to visit, the youngest daughter begins to use extremely insulting, harassing words toward my Dad, Sis or BF... What can they do?

Customer:

What crosses the line in terms of "harassment"? And what can they do about it?

lawjeff :

OK, a Domestic Violence Prevention Order ('DVPO') can be filed in the Family Division of your county's superior court. If an attorney cannot be afforded, assistance can be had for free to fill out the necessary forms at the Family Law Facilitator's Office.

Customer:

Ok, this is in San Diego County... in an unincorporated area of the county.

Customer:

So when she becomes enraged, they can file a DVPO against the daughters?

lawjeff :

Give me just a minute, I am looking at your County's website. If they request the DVPO from the court now, and the court issues it, then when they contact law enforcement, an arrest will be far more likely for the harassing behavior.

Customer:

Also, how does a DVPO work when they all live together?

Customer:

Thanks!

lawjeff :

Well it possible that the court will issue a 'residence kickout' forcing them to move. If not, they will likely be restrained from harassing, annoying, or coming within a short distance perhaps 3 feet (if they did not live together, the distance would be much greater (e.g., 200 yards).

Customer:

Yes, they all live together... And this sounds just like what needs to happen - a DVPO.

Customer:

So, exactly how will this worki

Customer:

DVPO issued against daughter

Customer:

they all live together

Customer:

if she violates the DVPO (3 feet contact, making insulting remarks, verbal abuse, etc), how will this affect us?

lawjeff :

OK, the San Diego County website is http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov. At the upper right corner is a box entitled 'Self Help' click it, and then on the page that opens, click the heading Domestic Violence Restraining Order. This should get you started.

Customer:

My question is how do my Dad, Sister and BF protect themselves if my stepmom or daughters lie and say that they have been treated the same way, which they have not... they will do anything to cover each others tracks.

Customer:

The eldest stepsister was a convicted felon for the crimes committed against our family when she was abusing drugs, and my stepmom had the felonies expunged without our knowledge.

Customer:

This is the type of people we are dealing with

lawjeff :

First of all that would not be a defense if they say there is harassment going both ways. Although it could result in mutual restraining orders if the stepsisters apply for them too. Second, many cases of course come down to which party's testimony the court believes. You can introduce evidence of a felony conviction to impeach testimony. Also other witnesses may be able to back up your sister's statements.

Customer:

I see

lawjeff :

I would suggest describing the crime in the restraining order application, and then bringing a certified copy of the complaint or conviction to trial.

Customer:

Ok, because the he said/she said element is a concern...\

Customer:

So to summarize, and simplify our conversation is that a DVPO should be filed for my Dad, Sister and BF?

Customer:

And once this kicks in, the youngest daughter will receive a copy of the DVPO, with instructions on how to restrain her behavior

lawjeff :

'He said/she said' should be a concern. Try to be creative in thinking of photographic or other evidence. Maybe neighbors? They can all file if they all require protection. From what you said earlier I'm not sure Dad needs a DVPO.

Customer:

How about when Dad comes to visit for the weekend?

lawjeff :

The daughter's will be served a copy of the DVPO by the San Diego County Sheriff. It has detailed instructions. A trial will be scheduled for the court to determine it a temporary order of a few weeks is extended for three years.

Customer:

And as far as the neighbors are concerned, no dice on that... there's no real connection with the neighbors.

lawjeff :

(1) What is your concern about Dad coming to visit. (2) You don't need the neighbors, just a thought that it might help.

Customer:

When Dad comes to visit, the harassment during and after he leaves is very unbearable for Dad, Sister and BF.

lawjeff :

OK, then Dad should apply too. If he has an attorney for the divorce, he should consult that counsel before taking action.

Customer:

That was going to be my next question, my stepmother filed pro se, and neither have an attorney

Customer:

She also issued my sister and her bf a termination of tenancy

Customer:

a 30 day term of tenency

Customer:

Which is why Dad got the notarized statement yesterday

lawjeff :

(1) OK, if no one has an attorney, then my advice about going to the SD Court website is even more important. (2) It looks like stepmother is attempting to start an eviction (unlawful detainer lawsuit), but it is a defense that an owner (Dad) allows his daughter and bf to live at the property.

Customer:

Keeping in mind that they both own the house, and Sis and her BF are there with his permission.

lawjeff :

Yes, as long as one owner gives permission, another owner cannot get an unlawful detainer judgment.

Customer:

The notice that she gave them was not notarized.

lawjeff :

That part doesn't matter, notarization of a 30 Day Notice is not required

Customer:

With respect to the notice that she gave my sister, and Dad getting his notarized statement, is Dad's notarized statement enough if she called the police to have them removed?

lawjeff :

The process for having tenant removes is: (1) a Notice is given, (2) an unlawful detainer lawsuit is filed and served (3) if the tenant files an answer, a trial is held (3) If the landlord wins at trial, the Sheriff is ordered by the court by a Writ of Possession to evict the tenant.

Customer:

With respect to the termination of tenancy notice she gave my sister, what are the exact steps my Dad and Sister and BF have to take to protect themselves at this point?

Customer:

We were told that being Sis and BF are there with Dad's written permission, and he is a joint owner, stepmother cannot evict them

lawjeff :

From the landlord/tenant perspective, be sure to file an Answer if sister & bf are served with a UD lawsuit. I agree with your last statement, they cannot be evicted.

Customer:

So the notice she handed my Sister is null and void?

Customer:

what if stepmother calls the police and tells them to leave?

Customer:

With the notarized statement from my Dad, will they simply show that to the police?

lawjeff :

In my opinion the Notice will not be enforced at UD trial if Dad tells the court he is a co-owner and his daughter and her boyfriend are there with his permission. We have been chatting for 45 minutes. I think this just about covers all I can practically tell you about this situation. Please press accept, and feel free to contact me again if more questions arise in the future.

Customer:

If she handed them this notice, does that mean she filed a UD, and if so, how could we find out?

lawjeff :

The lawsuit is a separate document. You can take a look at one at the court website if you like. Please 'accept' now.

lawjeff, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 10
Experience: California Lawyer with 20 Years Family Law Experience
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