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Domestic violence restraining orders in California

What is a domestic violence restraining order?
A domestic violence restraining order is a piece of paper, signed by a judge, which prohibits an abuser from contacting or coming near the victim. A domestic violence restraining order is granted by the family law court.

What can a domestic violence restraining order do in California?
A domestic violence restraining order can order an abuser:

In addition, a judge can order child custody, visitation and child support as part of a restraining order. Violation of a domestic violence restraining order is a crime.

How long does a domestic violence restraining order last in California?
First the victim can get a temporary restraining order (TRO), which protects the victim for about three weeks, until the court hearing (called an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing). At the OSC hearing the abuser has the right to come and to tell his side of the story. A "permanent" domestic violence restraining order, which the court can issue at the OSC hearing, can last up to three years and may be renewed after that.

The permanent restraining order stays in effect for the full amount of time unless the victim goes to court and has it removed. Even if the victim tears up her copy, lets the abuser back into her home, or goes on a date with him, the restraining order is still in effect. (Police might try to tell the victim otherwise, so it is important to understand this.)

Do I qualify for a domestic violence restraining order in California?
The abuser must be someone the victim is or used to be dating or engaged to, married to or living with, someone the victim has a child with, or someone the victim is related to by blood, marriage or adoption. The victim can qualify for a domestic violence restraining order if the abuser caused or attempted to cause injury to the victim or to sexually assault the victim, or if the abuser threatened to harm the victim and there is reason to believe that the abuser will carry out those threats. If the victim is 12 or older, she can apply for a domestic violence restraining order without the permission or presence of an adult guardian.

How much does it cost to get a domestic violence restraining order in California?
The entire process of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order in California is completely free. There is no charge to file the papers or to have the papers served on the abuser.

How do I get a domestic violence restraining order?
Depending on the victim's age and where she lives, the victim may be able to apply for a domestic violence restraining order through Break the Cycle. Contact Break the Cycle to discuss your options.

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