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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.  

After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some things that you may want to consider when leaving the courthouse.  You will have to evaluate each one and decide if it is safe and appropriate for you to do it. 

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If you see any errors, you can ask the clerk how to correct them.
  • Make several copies of the restraining order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the restraining order with you at all times.  Leave copies at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.

You may also wish to make a safety plan.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Go to our Safety Planning page for suggestions.

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back to topI was not granted a restraining order. What are my options?

If you are not granted a restraining order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence organizations in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe.  They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Planning page.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the CT State and Local Programs page.

If you were not granted a restraining order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a “family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through the criminal law system if a crime was committed.

You may also be able to reapply for restraining order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.  For general information, go to our Filing Appeals page.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a restraining order can be against the law and there are two ways to report the violation.

Through the Police or Sheriff
If the defendant violates the restraining order, you can call 911 or otherwise report it to law enforcement.  In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officer you have a restraining order and the defendant is violating it.  If the defendant is arrested, the case will go to the district attorney for possible prosecution.  The respondent can be charged with a criminal violation of a restraining order and depending what section of the restraining order is violated, the respondent can face imprisonment of not more than five years or not more than ten years, a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or not more than ten thousand dollars, or both a fine and imprisonment.*

Through the Civil Court System
You may also file a motion for civil contempt for a violation of the order.  Then, there will be a hearing held within five court days of when the motion is served on the abuser (as long as the service is made not less than 24 hours before the hearing).  The abuser can be "held in civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your restraining order tells him/her not to do and the judge can order whatever punishment that the judge believes is appropriate.**   To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.

* See C.G.S. § 46b-15(f)
** C.G.S. § 46b-15(j)

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back to topCan I change or extend my order?

Yes. To modify (change) your order, you would file a modification petition with the clerk and a hearing would be held.

To extend an order, you would file a motion to extend the order with the clerk and a hearing would be held.  The order can be renewed for such additional time as the judge believes is necessary.*  The Connecticut Judicial Branch website suggests filing the motion to extend 2 to 3 weeks before your order is set to expire.**

* C.G.S. § 46b-15(g)
** CT Judicial Branch website's brochure

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back to topWhat happens if I move? Is my order still effective?

Your order is good everywhere in Connecticut and in the U.S.  The federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Different states may have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders.  If you are moving out of state, you may want to call the domestic violence organization in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.  Go to our State and Local Programs page and enter  your state in the drop-down menu.  You may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111 x2) if you have any questions.

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

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