If you need immediate help, call 911, local DV Shelter or DV Hotline (Please be aware that opening website pages on your home or personal computer/phone may leave traces that a perpetrator can find)

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

What is Domestic Violence?

DV is abuse or threats of abuse between persons who are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together) or are related by blood/marriage (i.e. mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparents, etc.).

What is abuse?

  • Physically hurting or attempting to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly (kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, scaring or following you, or restricting your movement). It can even include physical abuse of the family pets.;

  • Sexually assaulting a person;

  • Making someone feel reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone);

  • Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting ; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.

Can abuse be emotional? verbal? psychological?

Abuse can be verbal, emotional, and psychological without being physical. You do not need to be hit to be abused. Abusers use a combination of tactics to control and overpower a person. Read more about domestic violence and abuse.

If you are being abused in any of these ways or you feel afraid or controlled by your partner or someone you are close with, it may help you to talk to a domestic violence counselor, even if you do not want (or are not sure if you want) to ask for legal protection. Find domestic violence resources .

Read about domestic violence laws starting with California Family Code section 6203. You can find criminal domestic violence laws in the California Penal Code, like Penal Code section 273.5Penal Code section 243(e)(1), and others.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

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:

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;

  • Transfer the rights to a cell phone number and account to the protected person ;

  • Pay certain bills;

  • Not make any changes to insurance policies;

  • Not incur large expenses or do anything significant to affect your or the other person's property if you are married or domestic partners;

  • Release or return certain property; and

  • Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.

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, or if you have a restraining order issued by a tribal court (in California or elsewhere in the U.S.), your restraining order will be valid anywhere 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 an Order to Register Out-of-State or Tribal Court Protective/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 or tribal court 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) UNLESS you and the restrained person agree to parentage of your child or children and agree to the court entering a judgment about parentage.

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, sell or store 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.

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)
TRO can be issued with or without notice to the alleged perpetrator. Court issues a TRO based on the documents you file and sets the matter for a hearing on the permanent restraining order. There is no filing fee for a 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 that last up to 5 years.

At the end of those 5 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.

Getting Help

You do not need a lawyer to ask for (or respond to) a restraining order BUT it is a good idea to have a lawyer, especially if you have children.

Other Resources

For victims of domestic violence

For perpetrators of domestic violence

For teens in domestic violence situations