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Name: Hatley v. Southard
Case #: E080000
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/01/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 8/16/2023

The trial court erred in denying a request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) because the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) includes behavior which amounts to “coercive control.” Hatley sought a DVRO protecting herself from Southard, her estranged husband. Hatley alleged that Southard had used suicide threats to manipulate her, used access to family finances and necessities, such as a telephone, as methods of control, isolated her by forcing her to depend on him for transportation, and sent threatening text messages. The trial court judge denied the DVRO finding that Hatley’s allegations did not fall within the DVPA as they did not involve physical violence. The appellate court reversed the order. The DVPA definition of domestic violence includes “disturbing the peace of the other party” which includes the practice of “coercive control.” Coercive control is a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will or liberty, and includes conduct which isolates a person from friends and support, deprives the the person of basic necessities, or controls or monitors the person’s activities. Hatley’s allegations included several kinds of abusive conduct which could warrant a DVRO. There is a reasonable probability Hatley would have obtained a more favorable result if the judge had considered whether the incidents destroyed her mental or emotional calm.