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Know the Laws: Connecticut

UPDATED January 10, 2017

Restraining Orders (Relief from Abuse Orders)

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A restraining order (also known as a relief from abuse order) is a civil order that protects you from abuse by a current or former family or household member.  

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Connecticut?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a restraining order (also known as a relief from abuse order).

Domestic violence is when you are subjected to one of the following by a family or household member:

  1. a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury;
  2. stalking; or
  3. a pattern of threatening.*  "Threatening" includes, but is not limited to, when the abuser:
  • uses a physical threat to intentionally place or attempt to place you in fear of immediate serious physical injury; or
  • threatens to commit any crime of violence with the intention of terrorizing you or with disregard to the fact that the threat can cause you to be terrorized.**

* C.G.S. § 46b-15(a)
** C.G.S. § 53a-62(a)

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back to topWhat types of restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

In Connecticut, there are two types of restraining orders:

A temporary (ex parte) restraining order can be issued on the day you apply for your restraining order if you allege (and the judge believes) that there is an immediate and present physical danger to you.  ("Ex parte" means that the order can be issued without prior notice to the abuser and without the abuser present in court.)   When deciding what to include in the temporary ex parte order, the judge can also consider the report that will be prepared by the family services unit of the Judicial Branch that may include, as available:

  • any existing or prior orders of protection against the respondent that are recorded in the protection order registry;
  • information on any pending criminal case or past criminal case in which the respondent was convicted of a violent crime;
  • any outstanding arrest warrant for the respondent; 
  • the respondent's level of risk based on a risk assessment tool utilized by the Court Support Services Division; 
  • information related to any pending or disposed (resolved) family matters cases involving you and the respondent.*  

If the judge grants you a temporary restraining order, it will last until the full court hearing for the permanent order, which has to take place within 14 days.  However, if you include in your application that the abuser has a permit or eligibility certificate to carry a pistol or revolver, a long gun, ammunition, or that s/he possesses firearms or ammunition, the hearing has to take place within 7 days. If the hearing is postponed, the temporary order can be extended until the hearing takes place.  If the respondent cannot be located/served with the petition and order, your ex parte order can be extended another 14 days while law enforcement attempts to locate/serve him/her.**

A permanent restraining order can be issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.  Permanent orders can last up to one year, but can be extended for additional periods as the judge believes is necessary.***

Note: In Connecticut, a there is also something called a family violence protective order, which is issued by a criminal court judge at arraignment after an abuser has been arrested.  This is different from the civil court restraining orders (also known as relief from abuser orders) that are discussed in this section.****

* C.G.S § 46b-15(b)
** C.G.S § 46b-15(b),(c)
*** C.G.S § 46b-15(g)
**** See CT Judicial Branch website

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back to topWhere can I file for a restraining order?

You can file for a restraining order in the superior court* of the judicial district where you or the abuser lives.** If you are unsure what judicial district you live in, you may want to contact an attorney that is familiar with Connecticut state laws. Please see our CT Finding a Lawyer page for your state for more information.

* C.G.S. § 46b-15(a)
** C.G.S. § 51-345

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back to topHow can a restraining order help me?

A temporary or permanent restraining order may:

  • order the abuser to not threaten, harass, assault, molest, sexually assault or attack you;
  • prohibit the abuser from imposing any restraint upon you or your liberty (freedom);
  • prohibit the abuser from entering your home or the shared family home;
  • grant you temporary child custody or visitation rights;
  • order the abuser to not injure or threaten to injure your animals;*
  • order the abuser not to contact you in any way, including through your home, workplace, etc.;
  • order the abuser to stay 100 yards away from you;**
  • grant you temporary possession of an automobile, checkbook, documentation of health, automobile or homeowners insurance, any documents needed for purposes of proving identity, a key or other necessary specified personal belongings;
  • if you and the abuser are spouses, or if you have a minor/dependent child in common and you live together, the judge may order the following additional things if they are necessary to maintain the safety and basic needs of you or your child(ren).  The judge can prohibit the abuser from:
    • taking any action that could result in the termination of any necessary utility services or necessary services related to your home or the family home;
    • taking any action that could result in the cancellation, change of coverage or change of beneficiary of any health, automobile or homeowners insurance policy that would harm you or the child that you have with the abuser;
    • getting rid of, transferring, hiding, etc., any specified property owned or leased by you;*** and/or
  • anything else that is needed to protect you, your children and/or anyone else the judge believes is appropriate.*

In addition, as part of a permanent restraining order, the judge can order the following additional protections.  The judge can order that the abuser:

  • make rent or mortgage payments on the family home or the home where you live with your and the abuser's minor/dependent child(ren);
  • maintain (keep) utility services or other necessary services related to the family home or the home where you live with your and the abuser's minor/dependent child(ren);
  • maintain (keep) all existing health, automobile or homeowners insurance coverage without any change in coverage or change in the beneficiary; and/or
  • provide financial support for any dependent child(ren) that you have with the abuser (provided that the respondent has a legal duty to support such child or children and the ability to pay), which will last up to 120 days or until another order for financial support is decided by a court, whichever happens first.  Note: The judge cannot enter any order of financial support without sufficient evidence as to the abuser's ability to pay, which must be presented at the hearing.  (If the judge does not make an order for financial support at the hearing, it cannot be done as part of the restraining order later on).****   

* C.G.S. § 46b-15(b)
** See Application for Relief from Abuse
*** C.G.S. § 46b-15(d) 
**** C.G.S. § 46b-15(e)

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