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Break the Cycle
National & Los Angeles Office
5200 W. Century Blvd. Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Break the Cycle
Washington D.C. Office
P.O. Box 21034
Washington, D.C. 20009

Legal Information

Teens and Restraining Orders

Although many do not realize it, teens and young adults are among the most likely to experience dating and domestic violence in their relationships. Going to court and getting a restraining order against your abuser is not just for adults or people who are married. Many states understand that young people are a large portion of victims of domestic violence, and have made sure that their laws allow teens and young adults to be protected.

Do I qualify for a restraining order?

In general, to qualify for a domestic violence restraining order or protective order, you must have a relationship with the abuser and some abuse must have occurred. While what qualifies as a “relationship” is different in every state, almost all states allow you to get an order against someone you are related to, someone you are living with or someone you have a child with. Many also allow you to get one if you are dating the abuser.

Can I get a restraining order even if I am under 18?

In most states, you can apply to get an order even if you are under 18, but you must have an adult's name on the court papers and that adult must ask for the order on your behalf. The adult can be one of your parents or your legal guardian. But, if you don't want (or are scared) to tell your parents what is happening, you may still have some options.

You may be able to have another adult (for example, a relative, friend or teacher) go to court with you instead of your parents. In some states a judge must approve of the adult who you choose (called a guardian ad litem). For this to happen, you must fill out paperwork asking for the adult to be your guardian ad litem, and a judge must approve the request. In other states, you still have to have an adult appear with you in court, but there's no additional paperwork to fill out and the judge doesn't have to approve of who you choose.

Several states will allow you to go to court to get a domestic violence restraining order alone, without involving your parents or any adults. Most states that allow minors to apply for restraining orders on their own require that you are at least 16 years old. A few, however, let minors of any age, or minors 12 or older, go to court without an adult.

Depending on the laws in your state, there are very big differences in what protection is available to you. If you are thinking about getting a restraining order, you need to find out what specific requirements your state has. Break the Cycle can help.

For more information contact us or call our helpline at 888.988.TEEN.