Applying for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

1. What is a domestic violence restraining order?

California law protects victims of domestic violence by allowing them to seek a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, or family member who has been violent towards them or threatens their physical and/or emotional safety. A domestic violence restraining order requires the restrained party to stay away from the victim for a certain period of time.

2. Do domestic violence laws only cover physical abuse?

The answer is: NO.

Domestic violence is an infringement and assault on an individual’s right to feel safe, loved, and/or cared for in his or her own home. Though many associate domestic violence with forms of physical abuse, it can also include name-calling, insults, constant criticism, manipulation of emotions, frequent and incessant “checking up” or monitoring, and isolation.

Just because the victim does not have physical scars doesn’t mean they don’t have emotional ones; and fortunately, many California laws recognize this.

3. Who can get a domestic violence restraining order?

Many states, including California, also have statutes protecting those in dating relationships, and many also have domestic violence laws that include any persons related by blood or living partnerships.

Under California law, you are qualified for a domestic violence restraining order if you and the person you want to restrain are:

·      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

·      closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law, etc.)

4. What can I do to help my domestic violence restraining order case?

Evidence! Getting the evidence you need to support your case is incredibly crucial. With that said, it is strongly suggested that you begin gathering your evidence sooner than later. This can include: photos, medical or police reports, text messages, emails, voicemails, damaged property, etc.

You can also take a witness to help your case. However, witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak. In any case, you may want to bring a written statement of what the witness said or heard. NOTE: These statements must be filed and served at the same time as your request for the restraining order.

5. How does a domestic violence restraining order affect child custody?

You can request custody and support orders within the request for restraining order forms. It is the courts duty to make child custody decisions based on a fairly simple standard: the best interest of the child. With that said, findings of domestic abuse and the need for a domestic violence restraining order will be major factors when making that determination.

6. What forms do I need to file?

You can find all necessary court forms HERE.

In addition to these forms, you should also ask your local court clerk if there are any local forms you have to fill out. You can find these forms on court websites. Click HERE to find your local court’s website.

If you are not represented by an attorney, it is a good idea to have your completed forms reviewed by your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center. They can make sure you filled out your forms properly before you move ahead with your case.

**It is IMPORTANT to know that your restraining order paperwork will go to the person you are wishing to restrain and he or she will have the opportunity to read everything you write. If you do not want this person to know where you are staying and you want to keep your address confidential, do NOT write it on these papers. Instead, 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 address**

Remember, the most important thing for victims is personal, physical, and emotional safety. In some cases, ensuring that safety may require getting a restraining order against an abuser. If you or someone you know is in need of a domestic violence restraining order or legal advice, feel free to contact Sturtevant Law.

For details on the process of filing a request for a restraining order in the state of California and for links to court forms visit: www.courts.ca.gov or CLICK HERE.