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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED January 2, 2017

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in California

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If you are planning to move to California or are going to be in California for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in California

back to topCan I get my out-of-state protection order enforced in California? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your out-of-state protection order can be enforced in California as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case.  (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.) and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.*1
Your protective order from a different state can be enforced both by judges as well as police officers in California.*2  A judge is required to even enforce parts of your order that could not legally be included in a California DVRO.*3  A California police officer can immediately enforce a protective order from another state so long as you have a copy that the officer believes is legitimate (valid).*4  So, it’s a good idea to always keep a copy of your order on you so that you can show it to a police officer if you need to.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protection order (MPO) off the military installation or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
*1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)
*2 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6402; 6403
*3 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6402
*4 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6403

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back to topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in CA?

No.  Generally, only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in California.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in California, you may be able to get a new one issued in California but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in California.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in California, visit our CA Restraining Orders page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in CA?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* CA can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area, select the state you are in from the Where to Find Help page and then click Finding a Lawyer.

You can also register your custody order from a different state in California.  To do so, you should send all of the following to the court in your county:

  • A letter requesting registration;
  • Two copies (one has to be certified- that means that it has to be an official copy from the clerk of the court, and usually has some sort of seal or stamp on it) of your custody judgment and a sworn statement that to the best of your knowledge, the order has not been modified;
  • Your name and address (although when there has been domestic violence, you don’t have to give your address to the court).
An out-of-state custody order that is registered in CA can be enforced as if the order were issued by a CA court.  However, the abuser will be notified of the registration and have the chance to contest it being registered in your new state.**  If you are trying to keep your location confidential from the abuser, registering the order would likely not be a good idea since it will let him know what county in CA you are living in.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and it must be consistent with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980; see also Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3443 & 28 U.S.C. § 1738A
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3445

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Registering your out-of-state order in California

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in California?

Registration of your protection order is voluntary and will be done by the court upon request.  The benefit is that once you register it, it can be entered in the Domestic Violence Restraining Order System, which may make police enforcement of it easier.  In most counties, the clerk will take care of registering it in the System; however, in some counties, you may have to take a copy of the registered order to the police yourself for them to put it in the System.  To find out how your county handles this, ask the court clerk. *

To register your order, you will need to:

  1. Fill out and sign the Register Out-of-State Restraining Order form (DV-600), which is available on the California Courts Self Help Center website or at the courthouse;
  2. Attach a certified copy of your order to the form; and
  3. Bring it to the court clerk. There is no fee for registering your out-of-state protection order in California.**
If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in California for assistance.  You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our CA State and Local Programs page.

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6404(a)
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6404(b)

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in California to get it enforced?

No.  California state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order and allows the courts to enforce the order even if it contains provisions that could not be included in a California DVRO.* 

Police officers also have to enforce out-of-state protection orders as long as you can show the officer a copy (it does not have to be a certified copy, and can be an electronic copy) of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect.**  The order does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a California police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.***

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6402(a)
** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6403(a)
*** Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6403

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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order in CA?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our CA State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topWhat if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe.  While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order  to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the state registry, it may be more difficult for a CA law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real, so it could take longer to get your order enforced.  However, the officer is required to enforce the order if you can show him a copy that appears to be a valid order.*

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in California.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in CA, go to our CA State and Local Programs page.

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6403(a)

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in California.*

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6404(b)

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