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How to File a Restraining Order in California





Domestic abuse and assaults are extremely dangerous for the victim. In many cases, the victim cannot stop the abuser without court assistance.





A restraining order or protective order is issued by the court to protect a person from being abused, harassed, stalked, or threatened. The person committing the offense is the restrained person. The victim is the protected person.





What can a Restraining Order Do For You?





Restraining orders can significantly impact the restrained person’s rights and activities. The person may not be able to go to certain places, own a gun, or have visitation with his or her children. Violating the order could result in fines and jail time.





A restraining order can instruct the restrained person to stay away from the protected person. It can also order the offender to stay away from the protected person’s home, place of work, vehicle, child’s schools, and other places the protected person may go.





Protective orders can also restrict personal conduct. The order may prohibit the restrained person from engaging in specific actions regarding the protected person, such as:





  • harassing;
  • attacking;
  • sexually assaulting;
  • threatening;
  • contacting (i.e. calling, texting, e-mailing, letters, etc.);
  • battering;
  • touching; and,
  • destroying property or breaching the peace of the protected person.




If the parties live in the same household, the restraining order can require the restrained person to move out of the home. The order may restrict what the person may remove from the home until the court issues a final order.





The Four Types of Restraining Orders in California





California courts issue four different restraining orders based on the person being abused or harassed:





  • domestic violence
  • workplace violence
  • civil harassment
  • elder or dependent adult abuse




A family law attorney can help you decide which restraining order is best for your situation.





Domestic Violence Restraining Orders





Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs) are a very common type of protective order. They are often used in divorce actions when a spouse alleges domestic violence as part of the divorce action. However, DVROs are not limited to divorce actions or legal separations.





A party may request a DVRO when abused by a person he or she is in a close relationship with or is closely related to, such as parents, siblings, children, or grandparents.





Workplace Violence Restraining Orders





Workplace Violence Restraining Orders can only be granted upon request of an employer on behalf of an employee. Employees cannot request the restraining order themselves. If the employee wants a restraining order, he or she must apply for a DVRO, if applicable, or a civil harassment restraining order.





Civil Harassment Restraining Orders





Civil Harassment Restraining Orders are available for people who are being stalked, abused, harassed, or threatened by a person who does not qualify for a DVRO. Distant relatives, neighbors, and other associates may be restrained persons under this type of restraining order.





Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order





Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders are for individuals 65 years of age or older or adults who have physical or mental abilities that prevent the person from protecting himself or herself from abuse. Elder and depend adult restraining orders may be issued for financial abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and other abuse or harmful treatment.





How Do You Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California?





You must file a petition with the court requesting a DVRO. There is no filing fee for requesting the restraining order. The judge reviews the information in the request and decides whether to issue a temporary restraining order.





If the judge issues a temporary restraining order, the order remains in force until the court date. Temporary restraining orders can also include provisions for child custody and visitation.





The court schedules a hearing. The restrained person has the right to file a response to the request for a DVRO. At the hearing, the judge reviews the evidence and decides whether to make the restraining order permanent, which means the order can last up to five years.





Protecting Yourself While You Seek a Restraining Order





If you are being abused, harassed, or threatened, talk to a domestic violence attorney. An attorney can help you take steps to protect yourself and your children until you can obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.





Individuals who are in immediate threat of harm may need to locate a safe place to stay until the court hears the petition for a DVRO. The timing of the DVRO can be important if you are seeking custody and possession of the home. You and your family law attorney can develop a timeline and strategy that protects you and your child while accomplishing your goals.


Puja Sachdev

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