DEFINING STALKING IN CALIFORNIA
The laws in this state define stalking as following, harassing or threatening someone maliciously, willfully and repeatedly. However, as straightforward as this definition might seem, the line between lawful and unlawful behavior in the context of divorce can become quite blurry.
After all, any interaction between contentious parties can feel like harassment. And being in the same place at the same time could be explained away as coincidence when parties continue to co-parent or run in the same circles.
That said, some examples of what stalking may actually look like during a divorce could involve your ex:
- Showing up repeatedly at places you frequent, like stores or restaurants
- Driving by your house without reason or at specific times, like at night, to see if you are home
- Calling you repeatedly or at times known to inconvenience you
- Following your family members or a new partner
- Sending unwanted gifts and messages
- Spying on you through cameras, GPS trackers or recording devices
- Making credible threats against you, your family or a new partner
These actions can trigger stalking charges if they cause or intend to cause reasonable fear for a person’s safety.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY EX IS STALKING ME?
If you suspect your ex is stalking you, there are several legal tools that you can explore. You can work with your attorney to secure a restraining order. You can also pursue dispute resolution methods that minimize direct contact with your ex. Another option could be petitioning the courts for a custody order that restricts your ex from unsupervised time with your child.
If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, you can call 911.
Stalking is a serious offense and has no place in a divorce. Understanding what it is and what it looks like can help you put a stop to dangerous, unlawful behaviors.