What Should I Know When Filing a Restraining Order?

When abuse is an issue in a relationship, filing a restraining order protects you and your family, while also allowing you to break free from the influence of your abuser. The process can be a bit intimidating, especially when you're concerned about your own personal safety. To help you along, The Judicial Branch of California offers the following advice. 

How do restraining orders help abuse victims?

Civil harassment restraining orders provide court-ordered directives to a person alleged to be a danger to another. These directives prevent a person from getting within a certain distance of your person. They also don't permit the person to harass or otherwise threaten you, or carry a weapon for the duration of the order. If you're concerned about the safety of friends and family, restraining orders can also be extended to other people in your life. This includes anyone that lives with you who could be harmed by the subject of the order. 

What can't restraining orders do?

If the person lives with you, the court can't order him or her to vacate the premises. Restraining orders also can't be used to enforce child support or to make determinations about custody or visitation. These issues should be addressed by your attorney within a family court setting, where the judge will decide on separate legal orders to specifically address child support and custody.

 Will I need to attend a hearing?

The first step is to file the appropriate forms with the superior court in the county where harassment has taken place. At this point, you'll receive a Notice of Court Hearing form so you can arrange a court date. If you're concerned about your safety in the meantime, you can request a temporary order, which remains in effect until your trial. While it can be difficult to see the subject of the order in court on the date of your hearing, you can inform court officials of your fears so they can take the proper steps to protect you. If the person tries to approach you after the temporary order is in place, call the police immediately. 

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