Salas bill to support domestic violence survivors signed into law

By The Leader Staff
Assm. Rudy Salas
Assm. Rudy Salas

Lemoore and Kings County’s assemblymember, Rudy Salas, applauded the signing of Assembly Bill (AB) 2369, a measure that will encourage more survivors to seek Domestic Violence Restraining Orders by requiring the court to order abusers to pay for a survivor’s attorney’s fees and costs.

In many instances, courts require domestic violence survivors to meet higher standards than their abusers when awarding attorney’s fees in DVRO cases. As a result of these higher standards, many attorneys are reluctant to take on survivors’ cases, and many survivors are discouraged from even filing their requests in the first place.

“AB 2369 is a common-sense bill that ensures domestic violence survivors are protected from harassment and receive the justice they deserve,” said Salas. “Survivors and their families should not have to fear going to court because they cannot afford an attorney. We must level the playing field to ensure that survivors are safe and free from violence and abuse.”   

Financial abuse is prevalent in most abusive relationships, and most survivors are not able to afford an attorney. In fact, almost 90 percent of DVRO litigants are self-represented. While DVROs are designed to protect survivors, a survivor’s DVRO request can be denied if they cannot advocate for themselves in court or navigate complex rules and laws. Currently, courts have the discretion to deny a DVRO even if they find past abuse has occurred. Survivors are left vulnerable and can be ordered to pay for the respondent’s attorney’s fees even after being abused.

“We are thrilled at the signing of AB 2369, championed by Assemblymember Salas,” said Cory Hernandez, attorney at the Family Violence Appellate Project. “AB 2369 addresses barriers to legal representation by removing unnecessary hurdles under existing law for survivors to recover needed fees, incentivizing attorneys to take low-income survivors' cases and making it harder for abusers to harass their victims in court.”

AB 2369 is a continuation of Assemblymember Salas’s work to support victims of domestic violence. In 2021 Assemblymember Salas successfully passed AB 673, which increased state funding for domestic violence shelters and the services they provide.  

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