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Northern California Tribal Court Coalition
Frequently Asked Questions - Domestic Abuse Prevention
Restraining Orders

Q: What is a Restraining Order?

A: 

A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with.
You can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if:

  1. A person has abused (or threatened to abuse) you;
    AND
  2. You have a close relationship with that person. You are:
  • Married or registered domestic partners,
  • Divorced or separated,
  • Dating or used to date,
  • Living together or used to live together(more than roommates),
  • Parents together of a child, OR
  • Closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).

If you are a parent and your child is being abused, you can also file a restraining order on behalf of your child to protect your child (and you and other family members). If your child is 12 or older, he or she can file the restraining order on his or her own.

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, there are other kinds of orders you can ask for (California Resources - contract your Tribe for Tribal Court filings):

If you are not sure what kind of restraining order you should get, talk to a lawyer. For help finding a lawyer. Also, your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may be able to help you. And your local legal services offices  may also be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.



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Q: What is it a Restraining Order CAN and CANNOT do?

A: 

What a restraining order CAN do

A restraining order is a court order. It can order the restrained person to:

  • Not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you;
  • Stay away from your home, work, or your children’s schools;
  • Move out of your house (even if you live together);
  • Not have a gun;
  • Follow child custody and visitation orders;
  • Pay child support;
  • Pay spousal or partner support (if you are married or domestic partners);
  • Stay away from any of your pets;
  • Pay certain bills; and
  • Release or return certain property.

Once the court issues (makes) a restraining order, the order is entered into a statewide computer system (called CLETS) that all law enforcement officers have access to. And your restraining order works anywhere in the United States. If you move out of California, contact your new local police so they will know about your orders.

If you move to California with a restraining order from another state, your restraining order will be valid in California and the police will enforce it. If you want your restraining order to be entered into California’s statewide domestic violence computer system, you can register your order with the court. Fill out and take a Register Out-of-State Restraining Order (CLETS) (Form DV-600) to your local court. Take a certified copy of your order with you. But keep in mind that you are not required to register your out-of-state restraining order. A valid order is enforceable even if you do not register it.

What a restraining order CANNOT do

A restraining order cannot:

  • End your marriage or domestic partnership. It is NOT a divorce.
  • Establish parentage (paternity) of your children with the restrained person (if you are not married to, or in a domestic partnership with, him or her).

Read the section Divorce and Legal Separation for information on getting divorced or legally separated.

Read the section Parentage for information on parentage (paternity) when the parents of a child are not married and are not domestic partners.

Effect of a restraining order on the restrained person

For the person to be restrained, the consequences of having a court order against him or her can be very severe.

  • He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.
  • He or she might have to move out of his or her home.
  • It may affect his or her ability to see his or her children.
  • He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (He or she will have to turn in or sell any firearms he or she has, and will not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
  • The restraining order may affect his or her immigration status. If you are worried about this, talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if you will be affected.

If the person to be restrained violates the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.



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Q: What are the Different Types of Restraining Orders?

A: 

Types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
An EPO is a type of restraining order that only law enforcement can ask for by calling a judge. Judges are available to issue EPOs 24 hours a day. So, a police officer that answers a domestic violence call can ask a judge for an emergency protective order at any time of the day or night.

The emergency protective order starts right away and can last up to 7 days. The judge can order the abusive person to leave the home and stay away from the victim and any children for up to a week. That gives the victim of the abuse enough time to go to court to file for a temporary restraining order.

To get an order that lasts longer than an EPO, you must ask the court for a temporary restraining order (also called a “TRO”).

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
When you go to court to ask for a domestic violence restraining order, you fill out paperwork where you tell the judge everything that has happened and why you need a restraining order. If the judge believes you need protection, he or she will give you a temporary restraining order.

Temporary restraining orders usually last between 20 and 25 days, until the court hearing date.

“Permanent” Restraining Order
When you go to court for the hearing that was scheduled for your TRO, the judge may issue a “permanent” restraining order. They are not really “permanent” because they usually last up to 3 years.

At the end of those 3 years (or whenever your order runs out), you can ask for a new restraining order so you remain protected.

Criminal Protective Order or “Stay-Away” Order
Sometimes, when there is a domestic violence incident (or series of incidents), the district attorney will file criminal charges against the abuser. This starts a criminal court case going. It is common for the criminal court to issue a criminal protective order against the defendant (the person who is committing the violence and abuse) while the criminal case is going on, and, if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, for 3 years after the case is over.

To learn more about criminal protective orders, read How does a Criminal Protective Order help me?  And if there is a criminal protective order against you, read A Criminal Protective Order was issued against me.



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Q: What is the Restraining Order Process?

A: 

The Restraining Order Process

When someone asks for a domestic violence restraining order in court, they have to file court forms telling the judge what orders they want and why. What happens after that varies a little from court to court, but the general steps in the court case are:

  1. The person wanting protection files court forms asking for the domestic violence restraining order. There is NO fee to file.
  2. The judge will decide whether or not to make the order by the next business day. Sometimes the judge decides sooner.
  3. If the judge grants (gives) the orders requested, he or she will first make “temporary” orders that only last until your court date. The court date will be on the paperwork. These temporary orders can include issues like:
    • Ordering the restrained person to stay away and have no contact with the protected person (and other protected people and family pets);
    • Child custody;
    • Who can use the family home; or
    • Who can use other property, like a car.
  4. The person asking for protection will have to “serve” the other person with a copy of all the restraining order papers before the court date. This means that someone 18 or older (NOT involved in the case) must hand-deliver a copy of all the papers to the restrained person.
  5. The restrained person has the right to file an answer to the restraining order request, explaining his or her side of the story.
  6. Both sides go to the court hearing.
    • If the protected person does not go to the hearing, the temporary restraining order will usually end that day and there will not be a restraining order.
    • If the restrained person does not go to the hearing, he or she will have no input in the case and his or her side of the story will not be taken into account.
  7. At the hearing, the judge will decide to continue or cancel the temporary restraining order. If the judge decides to extend the temporary order, the “permanent” order may last for up to 5 years.
  8. If the judge also makes other orders in the restraining order, like child custody or child support orders, these orders will have different end dates and usually will last until the child turns 18 or a judge changes them.

Read Asking for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order for detailed instructions on how to ask for a domestic violence restraining order.

Read Responding to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order for detailed instructions on how to answer a request for a domestic violence restraining order.



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Q: How Do I Ask for a Restraining Order in State (CA) Court?

A: Are You in Danger Now? If you need help right now, call “911.”

You can also call:

1-800-799-7233
TDD: 1-800-787-3224

Ask for a Restraining Order

To ask for a domestic violence restraining order there are several steps you have to take. But first make sure that:

  1. A restraining order is right for you. Read Can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Help Me? (Form DV-500-INFO).
     
  2. You qualify for a domestic violence restraining order.You and the person you want to restrain must be:
    • married or registered domestic partners,
    • divorced or separated,
    • dating or used to date,
    • living together or used to live together,
    • parents together of a child, OR
    • closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
  3. You get legal help from a local domestic violence agency in your county .


Once you are sure you qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, you are ready to fill out the forms (or have a lawyer or domestic violence clinic help you with the forms). If you are not sure you qualify, ask your local domestic violence agency . Your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you with the restraining order.

Filing a Request for a Restraining Order

STEP 1. Fill Out Your Court Forms and Prepare to File

STEP 2. File Your Court Forms With the Court

STEP 3. “Serve” Your Papers on the Restrained Person

STEP 4. Get Ready and Go to Your Court Hearing

STEP 5. After the Court Hearing


1. Fill out your restraining order forms
Fill out:

You may also need these forms if you need more space to describe why you need the restraining order:

2. Other forms you may need to fill out
If you have children with the person you want protection from, fill out:

  • Child Custody, Visitation, and Support Request (Form DV-105) and attach it to the Request for Order (Form DV-100);
       AND
  • Child Custody and Visitation Order (Form DV-140) and attach to the Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-110).
  • Request for Order: No Travel With Children (Form DV-108), if it applies to your case.

If you want child support, fill out:

Read Which Financial Form — FL-155 or FL-150? (Form DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.

If you are the spouse or domestic partner of the person you want protection from, and you want to ask for spousal, partner, or family support, fill out:

3. Fill out your court’s local forms (if any)
Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. Some courts also have forms on their website. Click to find your local court’s website.

4. Have your forms reviewed
If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with restraining orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case. Even if they cannot help you with the restraining order forms, they can help you with the child support and spousal/partner support forms.

5. Make at least 5 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the person you want protection from. The extra copies will be for other protected people or for you to keep in a safe place. The original is for the court.

IMPORTANT: Your restraining order paperwork will go to the restrained person in your case and he or she will get a chance to see everything you write. If you are staying somewhere you do not want the restrained person to know about and you want to keep the address confidential, do NOT write it on these papers. You can use a program called “Safe at Home” that gives you a secure address to use for your court papers (or for banking and other things) where you can still get your court papers without having to reveal your confidential address. Click to learn about Safe at Home .

Once you have filled out all your forms, you have to file them with the court.
Follow these steps:

1. Read I Filled Out the Forms — What Now? (Form DV-510-INFO)
This form is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

2. Take your forms to the court clerk
The clerk will give all your forms to the judge. The judge will read your papers and make a decision on whether or not to make the orders you are asking for. Ask the clerk when to return to see if the judge made the orders you asked for. The judge must decide by the next business day, but the exact time varies from court to court.

  • Sometimes the judge wants to talk to you. Or the judge may want you to give more information in writing. If so, the clerk will tell you.

3. Find out if the judge issued the temporary restraining order
Return to the courthouse when the clerk tells you to pick up your paperwork. Look over all the paperwork the clerk returns to you to see:

  • If the judge signed the Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-110).
  • If the judge made any changes to the orders you asked in your request.
  • When your court hearing is, on the Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV-109). The court hearing is also the date your temporary order runs out. If you want to extend it, you must go to your hearing to get a permanent order.

4. File your forms 
If the judge signs the order, the court clerk will file it. “File” means that the court clerk will make the order an official part of the court’s record of your case. The clerk will keep the original for the court and give you the 5 copies stamped “Filed.” If you need more copies, you can make them yourself.

  • There is NO FEE for filing a domestic violence restraining order.
  • If you do not speak English well, ask the clerk for an interpreter for your hearing date. If a court interpreter is not available, bring someone to interpret for you. Do not ask a child, a protected person, or a witness to interpret for you. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.
  • If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing or have another disability, ask for an interpreter or other accommodation. Get more information for persons with disabilities and a form to ask for an accommodation.
  • Find out if the clerk will send a copy of your restraining order to your local police department. If not, make sure you do it.

5. Distribute your copies of the temporary restraining order.

  • Keep 1 copy with you, always. You may need to show it to the police.
  • Keep another copy in a safe place.
  • Give a copy to anyone else protected by the order.
  • Leave copies at the places where the restrained person is ordered not to go (your school, work, etc.).
  • Give a copy to the security officers in your apartment and office buildings.

Restraining orders get entered into a special computer system at the California Department of Justice. That way, police officers across the state can find out about your order. In many courts, the court will send your order to the state computer for you. But if your court does not do it, you must do it yourself.


If the judge does NOT give you any or all of the orders you asked for

You can see if the judge denies your request for a temporary order, or part of your request, by looking at item 4 of the Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV-109).

Even if the judge did not make all the temporary orders you asked for, you can still go to the court hearing and ask for those orders. The judge may grant them at the court hearing, even if he or she did not grant them as temporary orders before the hearing.

But if all or part of your request was denied, you can cancel the court hearing the judge wrote on your Form DV-109 and, basically, drop your restraining order case for now. You can refile your request at a later date.

To give up (waive) your right to this hearing and cancel it:

  • Fill out and file a Waiver of Hearing on Denied Request for Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-112).
  • Do NOT continue with the rest of these steps. Do NOT give a copy of your papers to the person you wanted protection from.
  • If you already gave a copy of your papers to the other side, you have to also serve him or her with a copy of your Form DV-112 so he or she knows that the court hearing has been canceled.
  • Read the instructions on Form DV-112 carefully.

"Serving" means that the other side must get copies of any paper you file with the court. In “service” a third person (NOT you) is the one who actually delivers the paperwork to the other side. The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.”

The server must:

  • Be 18 or older, and 
  • Not be protected by the orders.

Until the other side has been properly "served," the judge cannot make any permanent orders.  Remember, so far, you have a temporary restraining order, which runs out the day of your court hearing unless the judge extends it or gives you a “permanent” restraining order.

In domestic violence cases, a law enforcement officer may be able to serve your restraining order papers for you. If they do, they will do it for free.

You can also hire a “process server,” which is a business you pay to deliver court forms. Look in the Yellow Pages of your phone book, under “Process Serving.”

For more help with service, read What Is “Proof of Service”? (Form DV-210-INFO). And read the section on Service of Process.

To serve your papers, follow these steps:

1. Figure out WHEN you have to serve your papers by
You will have to serve the papers on the restrained person by the deadline the judge writes on your papers. This is so that the restrained person has a few days to respond to your papers and prepare for court.

To find your deadline for service:

  • Look at your court date on page 1 of Form DV-109.
  • Look at the number of days written in item 5 on page 2 of Form DV-109.
  • Subtract the number of days in item 5 from the court date. That is your deadline to serve your papers. (You can always serve before the deadline!)

2. Serve your papers on the restrained person
Have someone “serve” (give) the restrained person a copy of the order and other papers you filed. The papers must be delivered in person. You cannot send them by mail. Make sure this is done before your deadline.

In addition to serving a copy of your papers, also serve BLANK:

And if you have children with the restrained person, also serve BLANK:

3. File your proof of service
Have your server fill out a Proof of Service (In Person) (CLETS) (Form DV-200) and give it to you so you can file it with the court. This form tells the judge and police that the restrained person got a copy of the order and knows about it. It is very important your server fills out the Proof of Service correctly. If possible, have your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center review it to make sure it was filled out properly.

  • If your server is a law enforcement officer or a process server, they may use a different proof of service form. If so, make sure it lists the forms served, date papers were served, where they were served, and time of service.
  • Make 5 copies of the Proof of Service after the server gives it to you.
  • Then, file the original and copies with the court clerk before your hearing. The clerk will keep the original and give you back the copies stamped “Filed.” Take a copy to your hearing.
  • Keep 1 copy with you (together with your restraining order) AT ALL times. Put the other copies with the temporary restraining order copies you have distributed.

If the restrained person was NOT served

The restrained person must be served before the hearing. If the restrained person was not served, you can ask the judge to extend the temporary restraining order until a new court date to give you more time to serve your papers.

You will need a Reissue Notice of Court Hearing and Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-125) to ask the judge for a new court date. Do this before or at your hearing. (If you wait until after the hearing, you have to start from the very beginning.) If the judge signs this order, the restraining order will last until the new hearing date.

To ask for an extension on the restraining order and new court hearing date:

  1. Fill out a Reissue Notice of Court Hearing and Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-125).
  2. Have the judge sign it (at the hearing) or give it to the clerk (before the hearing) to give to the judge to sign.
  3. File the signed Reissue Notice of Court Hearing and Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-125) with the clerk.
  4. Attach it to your other court papers and get the restrained person served following the same directions as with the temporary restraining order papers at the beginning of this Step 3.
  5. Make sure your server fills out a Proof of Service (In Person) (CLETS) (Form DV-200) and gives it to you. File your Proof of Service.
  6. Give a “Filed” copy of Form DV-125 to your local police and to everyone who has a copy of your temporary restraining order.
  7. Bring a copy to your hearing.

For more help, read How to Reissue a Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-126-INFO).

Get Ready for Your Hearing

This section will tell you how to get ready for your hearing. Click to listen to this information .

Be prepared:

  • Take documents that help prove the abuse. Take 2 copies of all documents and filed forms, including the Proof of Service. Some of the documents that can help your case may be:
    • Photos;
    • Medical or police reports;
    • Damaged property;
    • A threatening letter, email or telephone messages.
  • Take the Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS — OAH) (Form DV-130) to your court hearing. Try to fill out as much of the form as you can, but do not fill out the parts that deal with what the judge orders.
  • You can take a friend or relative (a support person), but that person must not talk for you in court.
  • You can take a witness to help support your case. Witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak. But you can bring a written statement of what the witness saw or heard. You must file and serve witness statements at the same time that you filed your request for the restraining order.
  • If you do not speak English well, take an interpreter to help you. Do not ask a child, a protected person, or a witness to interpret for you. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.
  • Most courtrooms do not allow children. Ask if there is a children’s waiting room in the courthouse before your hearing date.

Do not miss your hearing!
If you miss it, the restraining orders will end and you will have to start from the beginning.

Get there 30 minutes early:

  • Find the courtroom.
  • When the courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer that you are present.
  • If you are afraid of the restrained person, tell the officer.
  • Watch the other cases so you will know what to do.
  • When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom.
  • Your hearing may last just a few minutes or up to an hour.

Practice what you want to say:

  • Make a list of the orders you want and practice saying them. Do not take more than 3 minutes to say what you want.
  • If you get nervous at the hearing, just read from your list. Use that list to see if the judge has made every order you asked for.

Your court hearing

During your hearing, the judge may ask questions

  • Tell the truth. Speak slowly. You can read from your list.
  • The restrained person or his or her lawyer may also ask you questions.
  • Give complete answers.
  • If you do not understand, say "I don't understand the question."
  • If the restrained person lies in court, wait until he or she finishes talking. Then tell the judge.
  • Speak only to the judge unless it is your turn to ask questions.
  • When people are talking to the judge, wait for them to finish. Then you can ask them questions about what they said.

If there are child custody and visitation issues in your case:

  • The judge will probably send you to mediation. Mediation helps parents agree on a parenting plan that is best for the children.
  • If you are sent to mediation, the judge may make your temporary custody and visitation orders last until the next hearing or until another court order.
  • Either parent can ask to meet with the mediator separately.

The judge’s decision

At the end of the hearing, the judge will say what the orders are. The judge may:

  • Give you the orders you asked for.
  • Give you some of the orders you asked for and not others.
  • Not give you any of the orders you asked for.
  • Postpone your case and give you a new court date. This means you have to come back another day. The judge can do this if:
    • The restrained person needs time to get a lawyer or prepare an answer.
    • The judge wants more information.
    • Your hearing is taking longer than planned.
Ask the clerk for the forms you need so you can make sure that the temporary orders (if any) are extended until the new hearing date.

See Going to Court to read more information about how to prepare for your court hearing.

If the judge issues a restraining order at the hearing, or any type of orders, you will have to prepare a written order for the judge to sign. In some courts, the clerk or other court staff will prepare this order. If so, make sure you review it very carefully to make sure it says exactly what the judge orders and the clerk did not leave anything out. If there is a problem, tell the clerk right away.

If you have to fill out the order, follow these steps:

1. Read How Can I Make the Order Permanent? (Form DV-560).

2. Fill out the Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS — OAH) (Form DV-130), which will become your “permanent” restraining order.

  • Make sure your Form DV-130 says what the judge has ordered. Review it to make sure you understand it.

3. Attach any other forms you may need for other orders the judge made.
Here are some forms you may need (you will NOT need all of these forms, just the ones that deal with the orders the judge made):

4. Fill out a Confidential CLETS Information (Form DV-260).
This form does NOT get filed. It is confidential. It is used so that your restraining order can be entered into a statewide computer system that lets the police know about your order.

5. Give your Form DV-130 to the clerk (or the judge) and the judge will sign it.  Make sure the clerk files it. The clerk will give you up to 5 copies.

6. Serve the restrained person with a copy of Form DV-130 and any other attachments to the order.

  • If the restrained person was at the hearing, you can have him or her served with a copy of Form DV-130 by mail. Ask the server to complete the Proof of Service by Mail (CLETS) (Form DV-250) and give it back to you so you can file it. Keep a copy of it with your restraining order at all times.
  • If the restrained person was not at the hearing, but the judge’s orders are the same as the temporary order, you can have him or her served with a copy of Form DV-130 by mail. Ask the server to complete the Proof of Service by Mail (CLETS) (Form DV-250) and give it back to you so you can file it. Keep a copy of it with your restraining order at all times.
  • If the restrained person was not at the hearing, and the judge’s orders are different from the temporary order, you must have someone serve Form DV-130 in person, not by mail. Ask the server to complete the Proof of Service (In Person) (CLETS) (Form DV-200) and give it back to you so you can file it. Keep a copy of it with your restraining order at all times.

Remember, you and other protected people CANNOT serve the orders. The sheriff or marshal can serve the orders for free.

Getting Help

Most cities or counties have domestic violence help centers, shelters, or legal aid agencies that help people ask for a restraining order. These services are usually free or very low cost. If you are the person asking for a restraining order, look for help in your area before you try to do it on your own.

1-800-799-7233
TDD: 1-800-787-3224
Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can help you in more than 100 languages. It is free and private.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline links you to the following resources in your community:
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Emergency shelters
  • Legal help
  • Social service programs
The website also provides a lot of information to help you and your children stay safe and get protection.

 

This site lists help by county, like:
  • Women’s shelters
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Victim witness assistance programs
  • Counseling services for victims of domestic violence
  • Crisis hotlines
  • Family Violence Prevention Fund 
    Covers many topics, including information on domestic violence as it relates to health care, immigration, children, and housing.

More Information and Resources


________________________________________

General Resources

California Department of Health Services (CDHS) 
The CDHS Family Violence Referral Directory lists resources by county, including shelters/domestic violence programs, counseling services for victims, crisis hotlines, services for defendants, and legal service providers.

Can the Law Help Protect Me From Domestic Violence?  
A State Bar of California pamphlet.

Domestic Violence & Employment: Job-guaranteed time off to obtain services  
Factsheet prepared by the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco Employment Law Center.

Domestic Violence Project of Santa Clara County  
This site has information about many domestic violence topics.

LawHelpCalifornia Domestic Violence  
Step-by-step information on how to get a restraining order, links to domestic violence resources, domestic violence in the military, Internet security and more. (Select your county or enter your zip code for information specific to the area that you live in.)

National Domestic Violence Hotline  
Call 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 for TDD.
This hotline helps people all over the U.S. find information about shelters, legal advocacy and assistance programs, and social services programs in their area. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get help in over 100 languages.

Working Together to End the Violence
 This online tool contains information and resources for both victims and those seeking to help them. All content, including a public service announcement, is available in both English and Spanish. Use this site to identify signs of domestic violence and for access to organizations that can help.

San Francisco Law Library Family Law Research Guide  
This site has a list of books about domestic violence topics.

Stalking Resource Center  
The SRC's dual mission is to raise national awareness of stalking and to encourage the development and implementation of multidisciplinary responses to stalking in local communities across the country.

Supervised Visitation Network  
This site may help you find supervised visitation services in your county. Click on the "Service Providers Dir." link in the left-hand column to find providers in California.

Date Rape Information  
This publication was written by the National Crime Prevention Council.

Love: the good, the bad and the ugly

When Love Hurts: A Guide for Girls on Love, Respect and Abuse in Relationships  
This website was developed by the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Center (DVIRC) of Australia.

Can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Help Me?
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

A Criminal Protective Order was issued against me.
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

How does a Criminal Protective Order help me?
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

How to Enforce Your (Domestic Violence Restraining) Order
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

Information for the Restrained Person
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California.

What Do I Do With My Gun or Firearm?
Prepared by the Judicial Council of California



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Q: How Do I Respond to a Restraining Order in Tribal Court

A: Information on responding to a Restraining Order in Tribal Court can be found here.


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Q: How Do I Respond to a Restraining Order in State (CA) Court?

A: This section helps you respond to a request for a domestic violence restraining order. Read the introduction to the Domestic Violence section to get more information about domestic violence restraining orders and the restraining order court process.

What Is a Restraining Order?

A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse.

It can order you to:

  • Not contact or go near the protected person(s);
  • Not have a gun or firearm while the order is in effect;
  • Move out of the house;
  • Follow child custody and visitation orders;
  • Pay child support;
  • Pay spousal or partner support (if you are married or domestic partners);
  • Stay away from pets;
  • Pay certain bills; or
  • Release or return certain property.

If There Is a Restraining Order Against You

1. Read the order carefully. If you disobey the order, you can go to jail or be fined.

  • Make sure you stay away from all the people and places in the order.
  • If you are ordered to move out, take the clothes and belongings you will need until the court date and move out.
  • You CANNOT own, possess, or have a gun or firearm while the order is in effect. If you have a gun now, you have to turn it in to the police or sell it to a gun dealer. Read What Do I Do With My Gun or Firearm? (Form DV-810).

2. Read Information for the Restrained Person (Form DV-540-INFO).

3. Go to the court hearing on the restraining order. The hearing date is on the Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV-109).

  • If you do not go to court, the judge can make the restraining order without hearing your side of the story. And the order can last up to 3 years.
  • The judge can also make orders about your children, child support, and other things without your input.

4. If you want to tell your side of the story, file an answer BEFORE your court date.

  • You can fill out and file an answer where you tell the judge your side of the story about what happened.
  • In your answer, you can also tell the judge what orders you want about child custody and visitation (if you have children with the protected person).
  • Even if you do not file an answer, GO TO YOUR HEARING!


You do not need a lawyer to respond to a restraining order. BUT it is a good idea to have a lawyer, especially if you have children. And having a restraining order issued against you can have very serious consequences, so by having a lawyer you can protect your rights as best as possible. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you respond to the restraining order, or at least help you with any child support or spousal/partner support issues you may have.

IMPORTANT! If you also have a criminal case related to the abuse or   violence in this case, it is very important you talk to a lawyer. Anything you say or write in the domestic violence restraining order case can be used against you in your criminal case.

Answering the Restraining Order

If you decide to answer the request for the restraining order, follow these steps:

STEP 1. Figure Out Your Deadline to Answer

STEP 2. Fill Out Your Answer and Prepare to File

STEP 3. File and Serve Your Answer

STEP 4. Get Ready and Go to Your Court Hearing

STEP 5. After the Court Hearing


1. Look at your court date on page 1 of Form DV-109.

2. Look at Form DV-109, page 2, item 5.

  • Look at the number of days written in the first bullet after “To the Person in 2.”

3. Subtract the number of days in item 5 from the court date.

  • That is your deadline to file and serve your answer (Steps 2 and 3 below).

1. Fill out your answer forms
Fill out:

  • Answer to Temporary Restraining Order (Form DV-120); and
  • Additional Page (Form MC-020), if you need more space to write.

2. Other forms you may need to fill out
If the protected person asked for child support, fill out:

Read Which Financial Form — FL-155 or FL-150? (Form DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.

If the protected person asked for spousal, partner, or family support, fill out:

3. Fill out your court’s local forms (if any)
Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. Some courts also have forms on their website. Find your local court’s website.

4. Have your forms reviewed
If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center  helps people with restraining orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled out your Answer properly. Even if they cannot help you with the restraining order answer form, they can help you with the child support and spousal/partner support forms.

5. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the protected person. The original is for the court.

Once you have filled out all your forms, you have to file them with the court and “serve” (give a copy to) the protected persons. Both filing your Answer and “serving” it have to be done before your deadline.

1. File your Answer and other forms in court
Take the original and 2 copies of your forms to the court clerk to file them. The court clerk will keep the original and return both copies to you, stamped “Filed.” There is NO FEE for you to do this.

2. Serve the protected person with a copy of your forms
You must get someone 18 or older (NOT YOU) to mail a copy of your Answer and other papers to the protected person. The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.”

3. File your proof of service
Have your server fill out a Proof of Service by Mail (CLETS) (Form DV-250) and give it to you. Then, you file it with the court and keep a copy for yourself. This form tells the judge that the protected person got a copy of your Answer.

Get Ready for Your Hearing

This section will tell you how to get ready for your hearing.

Be prepared:

  • Take 2 copies of all documents and filed forms, including the Proof of Service. If there are any documents that help your case (trying to disprove what the protected person says happened), bring those with you.
  • You can take a witness to help your case. Witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak. But you can bring a written statement of what the witness saw or heard. You must file and serve witness statements at the same time that you filed your Answer (Form DV-120). If you did not have time to file them ahead of time, then bring the original plus 2 copies to your court hearing.
  • If you do not speak English well, let the clerk know and check to see if the court will be providing an interpreter at the hearing. If not, take someone to interpret for you. Do not ask a child, a protected person, or a witness to interpret for you. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.you.
  • Most courtrooms do not allow children. Ask if there is a children’s waiting room in the courthouse before your hearing date.
Do not miss your hearing!
If you miss it, the judge can make the orders without hearing from you.

Get there 30 minutes early:

  • Find the courtroom.
  • When the courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer that you are present.
  • If the person who asked for the order is present, do NOT sit near or try to talk to him or her.
  • Watch the other cases so you will know what to do.
  • When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom.
  • Your hearing may last just a few minutes or up to an hour.

Practice what you want to say in response to what the protected person said in the request:
 

  • Make a list of the orders you disagree with and practice saying why you disagree. Do not take more than 3 minutes to say why you disagree and what you want.
  • If you get nervous at the hearing, just read from your list. Use that list to make sure you tell the judge about everything you disagree with.

Your court hearing

During your hearing, the judge may ask questions

  • Tell the truth. Speak slowly. You can read from your list.
  • The other person or his or her lawyer may also ask you questions.
  • Give complete answers.
  • If you do not understand, say “I don’t understand the question.”
  • If the other side lies in court, wait until he or she finishes talking. Then tell the judge.
  • Speak only to the judge. Do not talk to the other person unless it is your turn to ask questions.
  • When people are talking to the judge, wait for them to finish. Then you can ask them questions about what they said.
  • Do not sit near or talk to the other person.

If there are child custody and visitation issues in your case:

  • The judge will probably send you to mediation. Mediation helps parents agree on a plan for custody and visitation that is best for the children.
  • If you are sent to mediation, the judge may make your temporary custody and visitation orders last until the next hearing or until another court order.
  • Either parent can ask to meet with the mediator separately.
The judge’s decision

At the end of the hearing, the judge will say what the orders are. The judge may:

  • Give the protected person the orders he or she asked for.
  • Give the protected person some of the orders he or she asked for and not others.
  • Not give the protected person any of the orders he or she asked for.
  • Postpone your case and give you a new court date. This means you have to come back another day. The judge can do this if:
    • You need more time to get a lawyer or prepare an answer.
    • The judge wants more information.
    • Your hearing is taking longer than planned.
  • If the judge postpones (“continues”) your case, the judge may make orders that last until the new hearing date.

See Going to Court to read more information about how to prepare for your court hearing.

 

STEP 5. After the Court Hearing

If the judge issues a restraining order against you at the hearing, or any type of orders, you MUST follow them. If you do not, you can be arrested.

You will be served with the Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS — OAH) (Form DV-130) within a few days of your court date, by mail or in person. If anything on the DV-130 form is different from what the judge ordered, talk to the court clerk right away to see what you can do. If the clerk cannot help you, talk to a lawyer right away. Or talk to your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center  to see if there is anything they can help you with.

  • If you were at the hearing, the protected person can serve you with a copy of Form DV-130 by mail.
  • If you were not at the hearing, but the judge’s orders are the same as the temporary order, the protected person can also serve you with a copy of Form DV-130 by mail.
  • If you were not at the hearing, and the judge’s orders are different from the temporary order, the protected person must have someone serve you with Form DV-130 in person, not by mail.

Getting Help

It can be difficult to find free or low-cost legal help if you are responding to a request for a domestic violence restraining order. But you should still try since legal aid agencies have different guidelines, and your local bar association may have a volunteer lawyer program that can help you. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you respond to the restraining order. If they cannot help with the restraining order, they can at least help you with any child support or spousal/partner support issues you may have.

Batterer Intervention Program Information

You can find batterer intervention programs in your area at: California Department of Public Health Violence Prevention Resource Directory  which lists help by county.

If you need a court-approved batterer intervention program, contact your county probation department .



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Q: How Do I Request a Restraining Order in Tribal Court?

A: Forms and procedures for requesting a Restraining Order in Tribal Court can be found here.


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