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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 you. A domestic violence restraining order is granted by the family law court.

What Can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Do?

A domestic violence restraining order can order an abuser:

  • not to contact you;
  • to stay a specified distance (usually 100 yards) from you, your home, school, work or your children's school;
  • to move out of your home;
  • to reimburse you for out-of-pocket costs directly caused by the violence against you (for example, medical bills or the cost to fix a broken door the abuser kicked in);
  • to return items of your personal property to you;
  • to attend batterers' treatment counseling;
  • The court can also make custody, visitation and child support orders if you have children with the abuser.

Violation of a domestic violence restraining order is a crime.

How Long Does a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Last?

First you can get a temporary restraining order (TRO), which protects you for about three weeks, until your 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 domestic violence permanent 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 you go to court and have it removed. Even if you tear up your copy, let the abuser back into your home, or go on a date with him, the restraining order is still in effect. (Police might try to tell you otherwise, so it is important that you understand this.)

How Do I Qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

The abuser must be a someone you are or used to be dating or engaged to, married to or living with, someone you have a child with, or someone you are related to by blood, marriage or adoption. You can qualify for a domestic violence restraining order if the abuser caused or attempted to cause injury to you or to sexually assault you, or if the abuser threatened to harm you and there is reason to believe that he will carry out those threats. There is no fee for a domestic violence restraining order. If you are 12 or older, you can apply for a domestic violence restraining order without the permission or presence of an adult guardian.

How Do I Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

You may be able to apply for a domestic violence restraining order through Break the Cycle. Call us to discuss your options.

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