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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED January 2, 2017

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

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A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order that protects you from abuse from an intimate partner or family member.

Who can get a DVRO

back to topAm I eligible to file for a DVRO?

You can file for a domestic violence restraining order if you or your minor child have been the victims of domestic violence from:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • A person you are dating or used to date (it does not have to be a sexual relationship), including a same-sex partner;
  • The mother or father of your child;
  • A person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption (such as a mother, father, child, brother, sister, grandparent, or in-law);
  • A person who regularly lives or used to live in your home* (but you must have a closer relationship than just roommates. Note: If you need a protective order against a roommate, you may qualify for a civil harassment order).**

Even if the most recent act of abuse happened some time ago, the length of time between the most recent act of abuse and the date you filed your petition should not be the determining factor that a judge uses to determine if you can get an order.  The judge is supposed to consider the totality of the circumstances (the "whole picture") in determining whether or not to grant you a DVRO.***

Minors who are 12 years old or older can file for restraining orders without the assistance of a parent or guardian. However, if you are under 18 and living with a parent or guardian, a copy of the restraining order must be sent to at least one parent or guardian, unless the judge determines that doing so would not be in your best interest.****

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6211
** California Courts Self-Help Center
*** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6301(c)
**** Ann.Cal. C.C.P. § 372(b)(1) & (2)

 

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back to topCan I get a DVRO against a same-sex partner?

In California, you may apply for a domestic violence restraining order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to file for a DVRO?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in California?

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back to topCan a minor file for a DVRO?

Minors who are 12 years old or older can file for restraining orders without the assistance of a parent or guardian.  However, if you are under 18 and living with a parent or guardian, a copy of the restraining order must be sent to at least one parent or guardian, unless the judge determines it is not in your best interest to do so.*

* Ann.Cal.C.C.P. § 372(b)(1) & (2)

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

 There are no fees for filing for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO).

You do not need a lawyer to file for a DVRO.  However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Contacting a lawyer can help you to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find contact information for legal assistance on the CA Finding a Lawyer page.  Domestic violence organizations in your area also may be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals.  Go to CA State and Local Programs to find organizations near you.

 

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back to topCan I get financial support when I file for a DVRO?

Sometimes.  If there is no current child support order and your child is living with you, the judge may order the abuser to pay you child support.  However, you have to request it, and there are additional forms you have to fill out.  You can find those forms on the CA Courts website or in court.  In deciding whether to grant child support in domestic violence situations, the judge also considers whether a lack of support would put you and your child in danger.*

You may also be able to get spousal support if you are married to the abuser and no spousal support order exists.  You will have to fill out additional forms, which can be found on the CA Courts website or in court.  When deciding whether or not to order the abuser to pay spousal support, the court considers whether the lack of support would put you in danger (including safety concerns related to your financial needs).**

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6341(a)
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6341(c)

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