What Should I Know When Filing a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is an important legal document that can provide a measure of safety and peace of mind for the filing party. If you face problems such as domestic violence, abuse, stalking or assault, you have the right to request a court order forcing your assailant to stay away from you. A restraining order in California is something you can request during or after a divorce case, if necessary for protection from your spouse or ex-spouse. A lawyer can answer any questions you may have regarding restraining orders in California.

What a Restraining Order Can Do

A restraining order is something a judge signs to say that the subject of the order will face penalties for engaging in certain forbidden acts. Restraining orders are most common in situations involving domestic violence, harassment, threats, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and other situations in which the protected person is in fear for his or her safety. A restraining order, or protective order, names an entity – the restrained person – who can no longer do certain things to the protected person without legal repercussions.

  • Talk to, contact, email or call
  • Hit, strike, batter or attack
  • Stalk or follow
  • Harass, threaten, intimidate or assault
  • Destroy personal property
  • Disturb the peace of

Some protective orders also force the restrained person to stay a certain distance away from the protected person at all times, such as 50 or 100 yards. Other orders force the restrained person out of a shared household, especially in domestic violence cases. In some cases, the restrained person may also not be able to do certain things, such as see his or her children or obtain a green card to remain in the country.

What a Restraining Order Cannot Do

A restraining order is not a guarantee that the subject of the order will leave you alone. Although it can increase the chances of your protection from the restrained person, he or she could still choose to break the law and deal with the consequences of talking or interacting with you. A restraining order does not mean police officers will arrest or detain the restrained individual upon sight. It is still up to the restrained person to follow the order. Breaking the order, however, will result in serious consequences such as going to jail and/or fines.

Types of Restraining Orders

If you believe you need to file a restraining order against someone in California, find out which type of order is appropriate for your situation. The state courts offer four types of restraining orders in California. The first is a domestic violence restraining order against someone you have a close relationship with who has subjected you to abuse. The second is an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, for people 65 or older who have faced abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. The third is a civil harassment restraining order if someone who does not live with you is stalking, harassing or threatening you. The fourth is a workplace violence restraining order against someone who has threatened, harassed or assaulted you as an employee.

How to File a Restraining Order

You can file a restraining order in California by downloading the proper forms, or going to your county clerk’s office for paper versions, in the county where the harassment or abuse took place. Fill out these forms completely and submit them. You will then receive a Notice of Court Hearing, at which time you can schedule a court date. You can request a temporary restraining order to protect you until your court date if you wish.

On the date of your trial, you will present your case to a judge. You or your lawyer will need to present sufficient evidence to convince the judge of the necessity of the order. Your attorney can help ensure the proper safety measures are in place on the date of your hearing. An approved restraining order will last as long as the judge decrees on the order.