The standard of proof to obtain a domestic violence restraining order is actually rather low. The victim must prove that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the accused committed domestic violence or, based on previous conduct, may engage in domestic violence. This standard is actually one of the lower legal standards available.
I presume that one of the reasons for creating this low standard of proof is the difficulty producing evidence at a domestic violence restraining order hearing. There is rarely documentary or physical evidence unless the violent resulted in severe injuries. Only in the most severe cases does the victim seek medical attention, so medical evidence is not common. The most common physical evidence is photos of bruising or cuts.
Domestic violence almost always occurs in private. Therefore, it is rare that there are any witnesses other than the victim and defendant. Generally, the evidence is of the “he said/she said’ variety. In those cases, the credibility of the witnesses is the major focus.
Given the importance of credibility, it is vital that witnesses testify clearly in a way that makes sense to the judge. An experienced family lawyer will review the testimony with the client so there are no surprises and the client is as comfortable as possible when testifying.