My question involves restraining orders in the State of: California, Los Angeles County
I have a 5 year restraining order against me which expires in 2015. At the end of that time I want to ensure that I am not going to have to face down this kind of fraud again. My ex-wife has already given me unsupervised visitation with our daughters back in 2011. When I moved to Australia in 2012 to take a job she became very difficult to reason with and we have had a complete breakdown in communication. The order was non sense to begin with but, whatever. I just want to make sure that she isn't able to "restrain" me any further. I only want to be the best father I can be to my children and that means being in their lives so being "restrained" makes that next to impossible. I am afraid that she is going to try and extend the order. Is this even possible? The details of everything are below...
My ex-wife sought out and received a restraining order against me in 2010 as we were separating after 13 years of marriage. During our marriage there has never been any abuse. One of the contributing factors to our divorce was my then struggle with the abuse of alcohol. (I have been sober since Jan. 2011). With that in mind however I have no criminal record. No DUI's, no arrest history or any history of violence whatsoever. At the time where I voluntarily left our house we did have a heated argument where she tried to slap me. I grabbed her wrist to block the assault from her and pushed past her to get out of the house. I was served with papers notifying me of an upcoming hearing for a Temporary Restraining Order. I missed the court date for the hearing. I was at that time packing up to move back to Canada (with family) temporarily until I got healthy again.
The TRO hearing also set a follow up hearing (which I didn't know about) for the 15th of July 2010. At that time I was already living in Canada and completely unaware that she was seeking further protection from me. She alleged an assault took place when I pushed past her to leave. That is the only time we ever had any sort of physical contact that was anything other than the normal contact of a married couple during 13 years of marriage. It is my feeling that the order was a vindictive power play in her dissolution petition and because of my substance abuse problem (which she dramatically played up) and the fact that I didn't turn up for either court appearance, I angered the court so they awarded the maximum term for protection. We have 2 young girls, whom she was awarded sole physical and legal custody of.
I accept responsibility for my own actions that led up to this, however, I feel that the term awarded was unnecessary and harsh. Circumstances change and so do people. For my part I have been sober for almost 2 1/2 years. I have sought to have the most involved relationship that I can with my daughters and as the past year has gone on my ex has sought and been awarded an increase in child support. I have paid and continue to pay which I have no problem with. During the course of her RFO to seek more money, I also sought to change the custody order to include the provision for unsupervised overnight visits and the ability to travel internationally with my daughters. Specifically I sought 2 months a year custody. On the day of our hearing my attorney advised me that the Judge appeared to be quite harsh in his interpretation of the law in regard to orders of protection. He advised that it would be better to seek to negotiate with my ex outside of the court and then negotiate child support via brief to the court. So outside of court they did negotiate 2 weeks visitation for this coming summer and 4 overnights - supervised by a family member whom she is comfortable with.
As the visit has been approaching her behavior has become more and more unreasonable. I have had weekly Skype sessions with my girls for over a year but recently she has been missing them or only providing a 30 minute window for me to have access. Our daughters are very excited to see me and spend time with me. It has been the subject of our Skype sessions for over a month now but I think that my ex wife is extremely afraid that the contact with the girls will allow them to see the lies and manipulation she has subjected them to and as such I think that she is going to try and do anything she can to block the contact. My main focus is ensuring that my daughters are able to have the relationship with their father that they need. They are going to be confused and angry if I am further restrained after 2015.
In truth I would love to be able to revoke or modify the order but from everything that I have read, it seems as though that is quite impossible.
Thanks for reading this. Hopefully someone out there can give me some guidance. My attorney and I have parted ways due to gross abuse of my finances but that's another story. I am in the process of retaining new legal counsel.