How to File a Restraining Order in California

Hossein Berenji, Nov 10, 2020

While no one hopes or imagines they will ever need to file a restraining order, the truth is that it can be necessary for just about anyone. In many cases a restraining order can be required to protect an individual from someone who is close to them (in California these are known as domestic violence restraining orders), still there are others who need protection from someone other than a spouse or partner.

In California the four types of restraining orders are:

Each of the different types of restraining orders comes with slightly different criteria and processes for obtaining one.

One of the most important things to know about filing a restraining order is which type to file. While you can file a restraining order on your own, because each of the four different types requires different information, it might be advantageous to have the help of a qualified lawyer.

If you have been abused or your spouse or partner has threatened to abuse you, and you want to file a restraining order against them, you would need to file a domestic violence restraining order.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Process

The very first step, even before filling out the necessary paperwork, is to make sure you and your children are safe. If you feel threatened by your spouse or are currently in danger call 911. You can also reach out to various domestic violence shelters located throughout California.

Once you are safe, you can begin the process of filing a domestic violence restraining order. The first step is to fill out all necessary forms.

Each form will ask for detailed information including:

  • Your personal information
  • Your relationship to the person you are filing the order against
  • What you want the order to do (how far you want the person to stay away from yourself and particular locations you frequent)
  • A description of how the person has abused you

After you have filled out the forms completely, you can bring them to the court in the county where you are filing. Give the forms to the clerk who will in turn deliver them to the judge. Note that there is no fee for filing for a restraining order.

By law, the judge has to make a decision by the next business day. If he or she decides to grant the restraining order, it will be a temporary restraining order often lasting around fifteen days. The temporary restraining order will end when the judge formally hears the case and decides whether or not to grant a permanent restraining order.

Next Steps: Serving the Documents

After you have received copies of the temporary restraining order, you should distribute them to the people who will need to be aware of the nature of the order. For example, you should keep one for yourself, give one to any other person who is protected by the order, and leave copies at the various locations the other person is restrained from going to.

After you have informed all of the other parties and places protected by the order, you need to inform the person the order is against. This needs to be done via a process server who will deliver the notice of the order on your behalf. It should be noted that a judge cannot issue a permanent order until there is confirmation that the other party has been notified of the order.

Hearing: Your Chance to Request a Permanent Injunction

When the judge issues the temporary restraining order, he or she will also set a date for a hearing to decide whether or not to extend the order, making it permanent. It is required for the individual requesting the restraining order to attend the hearing.

At the hearing, you will make your case as to why the restraining order should be made permanent. You can show pictures of injuries and damage, submit medical and police reports as proof of abuse, and also read any threatening messages you have received.

At the conclusion of your hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant the restraining order in full, in part, not at all, or to postpone his or her decision until a later date.