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Know the Laws: Oregon

UPDATED April 1, 2012

Restraining Orders to Prevent Abuse

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A restraining order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat are restraining orders?

A restraining order is a court order that is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family from the abuser.

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back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic abuse in OR?

This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting a restraining order.

Domestic abuse is when a family or household member:

  • Attempts to hurt you physically
  • Actually hurts you physically (intentionally, recklessly or knowingly)
  • Intimidates or makes you afraid of serious physical injury (intentionally, recklessly or knowingly)
  • Makes you have sex against your will by force, or threat of force.*
“Family or household member” means any of the following:
  • a current or former spouse;
  • an adult related by blood, marriage or adoption;
  • someone you are living with or have lived with in the past;
  • someone you have been in a sexually intimate relationship with, within two years immediately preceding the filing of a restraining order petition under; or
  • someone you had a child with.**
* O.R.S. § 107.705(1)
** O.R.S. § 107.705(3)

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back to topHow can a restraining order protect me?

A restraining order can order the abuser to:

  • Stop abusing, threatening, or interfering with you and any children in your custody;
  • Stay away from your home, school, place of business, or other specified place;
  • Leave your home (if you live together);
  • Remove personal belongings from the home while police stand guard;
  • Have no contact with you in person, by mail, or by phone.*
A restraining order can also:
  • Give you temporary legal custody of your children;
  • Give the abuser temporary custody (if you request this) dependent upon certain conditions to protect the children;
  • Allow you visitation rights to your children if the abuser has custody;
  • Order other relief that the judge thinks is necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of you and your children, including but not limited to emergency financial assistance from the respondent; and/or
  • Order other relief to prevent the neglect and protect the safety of any animal kept for personal protection, companionship, service or therapy (but not an animal kept for any business, commercial, agricultural or economic purpose).*
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* O.R.S. § 107.718(1)

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back to topIn which county can I file for a restraining order?

You can file a petition in the county where you live, or in the county where the abuser lives.*

* O.R.S. § 107.728

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Who can get a restraining order

back to topAm I eligible to file for a restraining order?

You are eligible to file for a restraining order if you have experienced domestic abuse within the last 180 days* by:

  • a current or former spouse;
  • an adult related by blood, marriage or adoption;
  • someone you are living with or have lived with in the past;
  • someone you have been in a sexually intimate relationship with, within two years immediately preceding the filing of a restraining order petition under; or
  • someone you had a child with.**
Note: If you are not eligible for a restraining order, you may be eligible for a stalking protection order.  See What is a stalking protection order?

* O.R.S §107.710(6); Any time during which the abuser is in prison or has a lives more than 100 miles from you does not count as part of the 180-day period.
** O.R.S. §107.705(3)

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back to topCan I get a restraining order against a same sex partner?

Yes. Oregon law does not specifically require that you and the abuser be members of the opposite sex. As long as the abuser fits under one of the above categories, you should be eligible to get a restraining order.  See Am I eligible to file for a restraining order? for more information.

There may also be other legal options for you as well. To find help in your state, please click on the OR Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

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back to topCan I get a restraining order if I'm a minor?

Maybe. If you are under 18 years old, you cannot get a restraining order unless the abuser is over 18 and:

  • is your spouse or former spouse, or
  • is someone with whom you have been in a sexually intimate relationship but you do NOT have to have lived together.*
You must have experienced abuse within the last 180 days to get a restraining order against the abuser. Any time during which the abuser is in prison or lives more than 100 miles from you does not count as part of the 180-day period.**

If you do not satisfy the above requirements, speak to a local domestic violence organization for more information about minors getting restraining orders. You can find one near you on our State and Local Programs page.

* O.R.S §107.726
** O.R.S §107.710(6)

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back to topWhat will happen when I file for a restraining order?

When you go to the court to file for a restraining order, the judge might give you a temporary restraining order.  A temporary restraining order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser.  You may receive a temporary restraining order as soon as you file your petition, without the abuser present in court.

The temporary restraining order is legal as soon as the court grants it.  However, it cannot be enforced until the abuser has been served with notice of the order.  A sheriff or another qualified person will serve the abuser with a copy of the order.

After the respondent (the abuser) receives the temporary restraining order, s/he has 30 days to ask for a hearing. If the abuser asks for a hearing, it must be held within 21 days of that request.  If the abuser contests (fights) the temporary order, then you will have a court hearing to determine if the temporary restraining order will continue.

Once issued, your (permanent) restraining order is in effect for one year unless:

  1. the order is dismissed or modified by the court;
  2. it is dismissed earlier by the court at your request; or
  3. the court renews it at your request, whichever comes first.*
Note: At the time you file your petition for a temporary restraining order, the judge may schedule an "exceptional circumstances" hearing.  What is an exceptional circumstances hearing?

Oregon also has what are called stalking protection orders, which are court orders that are designed to stop someone from harassing you (or your family members). Read more about stalking orders here: What is a stalking protection order?

You may be able to get both a stalking protection order and a temporary restraining order, if both apply to your situation.

*O.R.S. § 107.718(3)
** O.R.S. § 107.718(2)

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back to topWhat is an exceptional circumstances hearing?

When you file a restraining order, an "exceptional circumstances" hearing will be scheduled if the judge determines that there are issues affecting the custody of your child(ren). The judge will order that this hearing be held within 14 days. At this hearing, the judge will ask both you and the respondent to appear and provide additional information about the circumstances of your children and your contact with them. For example, the judge may order such a hearing if you are not the usual and primary caretaker of the children, or if your request for custody conflicts with a previous order of the court in another matter.*

* O.R.S. § 107.718(2)

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need an attorney?

There is no fee to file a restraining order*, and you do not need an attorney to get one. However, an attorney is recommended if the abuser contests the restraining order or hires an attorney. A domestic violence organization in your area may be able to refer you to an attorney or legal aid service that can help you. See our OR Where to Find Help page for a list of organizations in your area.

* O.R.S. § 107.718(8)(c)

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Steps for getting a restraining order

back to topStep 1: Go to the courthouse and get the petition.

Go to the circuit court in the county where the abuse occurred, where you live, or where the abuser lives. Find the civil court clerk and ask for a petition to apply for a restraining order. The form you will need is called "Petition for Restraining Order to Prevent Abuse".

You can find links to petitions online by going to Download Court Forms.

Note: You, the person filing the complaint, are the “petitioner.” The person against whom you are filing against (the abuser) is the “respondent.”

When you go to the courthouse, remember to bring some form of identification. It is also helpful to bring identifying information about the abuser if you have it such as:

  • a photo
  • addresses of residence and employment
  • phone numbers
  • a description and plate number of the abuser's car
  • any history of drugs or gun ownership
You can find a court near you by going to our Courthouse Locations page.

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back to topStep 2: Fill out the petition.

Read the petition carefully and ask the clerk questions if you don’t understand something. You must provide complete and truthful information.

Write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible. If there is space for it on the petition, you could also include details about the history of abuse so that the judge can understand the bigger picture, not just the most recent incident.

An advocate from a domestic violence organization may be able to help you fill out the form. See OR State and Local Programs to find the location of an organization near you.

Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk; the form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.

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back to topStep 3: A judge will review your petition.

After you finish filling out your petition, take it to the court clerk. The clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether s/he thinks the abuser is a real threat to you and/or your children’s physical safety, and whether or not to issue the temporary restraining order.

If the judge issues you a temporary restraining order, the clerk of the court must deliver a copy of the petition and temporary restraining order to the county sheriff so that the abuser (respondent) can be served. You should also request two free copies of the petition and order for your own records. Make sure to keep a copy of the order with you at all times.

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back to topStep 4: Service of process

A restraining order (temporary or permanent) is legal as soon as the court grants it. However, it cannot be enforced until the abuser has been served with it.

The county sheriff is responsible for serving the abuser (respondent). You may have the order served by another private party or an officer of the peace. If you choose this option, the person who serves it may have to fill out an affidavit of service that you will have to bring back to court with you – ask the clerk about this if you choose to not have the sheriff serve the papers. You cannot serve the abuser the papers yourself.

There is no cost to file a petition, to have the sheriff serve the papers, or to have a court hearing about the restraining order.

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back to topStep 5: See if the abuser requests a hearing.

When the abuser receives his copy of the restraining order papers and knows about your petition, he has 30 days to ask for a hearing, which must be held within 21 days of that request. The court will let you know if there is a hearing scheduled.

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back to topStep 6: What will I have to prove at the hearing?

The judge will want to hear from you and from your witnesses, if you have any witnesses who saw him abuse you or saw your injuries. You and your witnesses should be prepared to talk about what happened to you. You and your witnesses need to be specific -- describe when and where the abuse took place, what happened, how (and with what) you were injured, (e.g., explain to the judge if you were hit with a fist, an elbow, an open palm, a heavy object, on the floor or against a door or furniture, etc.), whether the police were called, and if you were treated by a doctor or medical professional. If you have any pictures of your injuries, medical reports, or police reports, bring them to court with you. Also, you might want to tell the court if any of the abuse took place in front of the children.

See Preparing Your Case under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

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back to topStep 7: The hearing

You will only have a hearing if the abuser requests one. If the abuser requests a hearing, it is extremely important that you attend that hearing. If the abuser shows up and you do not, the judge may dismiss (drop) your temporary restraining order. If the temporary restraining order is dismissed, you lose the protections that you got in the order, such as child custody and mandatory arrest. Also, if you do not show up at the hearing it may be harder for you to be granted an order in the future.

If the abuser shows up to the hearing with a lawyer, you may ask the court to postpone the hearing to a later date (also called a continuance) to give you some time to get a lawyer to represent you. Even if the abuser doesn’t have a lawyer, you may wish to bring one with you to the hearing to help present your case to the judge. See OR Finding a Lawyer for contact information of lawyers in your area.

If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a restraining order for up to one year, or the judge may order a new hearing date.

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After the hearing

back to topWill I have to face the abuser in court?

Maybe. A judge can give you a temporary restraining order without a full court hearing and without the abuser present.

However, the abuser has the right to request a hearing, within 30 days of being served with the paperwork notifying him of the temporary restraining order, for a chance to tell his side of the story.

If the abuser does request a court hearing, a hearing will normally be set for some time during the following 21 days. You must attend that hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, a judge may take away your temporary restraining order. You may have to face the abuser at that hearing.

If the abuser does not request a court hearing, your temporary restraining order can last for up to one year.

You may have additional court hearings if you want to change or extend your restraining order, or if the abuser violates the restraining order. The abuser may come to those hearings. See How do I change or renew (extend) the permanent restraining order?.

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

  • Review the order carefully before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the restraining order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order 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 picture of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
You might find it helpful to talk to someone at a domestic violence organization near you for support. See OR State and Local Programs for contact information.

Even with a restraining order, it is important to take safety precautions and create a safety plan to keep you and your children as safe as possible. Please read our Staying Safe information or ask your local domestic violence advocate to help you design a safety plan that is best for you.

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

If the abuser violates the restraining order, you can immediately call 911. Make sure that the officers make a report so there will be a record of the violation. Write down the officer's name, badge number, and report number. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it can help you have the order extended or modified.

After the court grants you a restraining order, the county sheriff is required to enter the order into the Law Enforcement Data System maintained by the Department of State Police and into the databases of the National Crime Information Center of the United States Department of Justice (NCIC). Then, an officer at the scene of a violation will be aware of your restraining order.

If the police are called and the abuser is arrested, a court hearing may be set to have the person found in "contempt of court" for violating the restraining order, or criminal charges can be filed.  Bail is usually set at $5,000 and a hearing is scheduled. At the hearing, if the abuser is found in contempt of court, the maximum punishment could be a fine and/ or up to six months in jail. Your local district attorney is required to represent your interests at the contempt hearing if you cannot afford to hire your own attorney.*

The restraining order can play an important role in protecting yourself, but it is important to create a safety plan or go to a local support center for additional help in keeping yourself as safe as possible. For additional help, please see our Staying Safe and OR State and Local Programs pages.

* Oregon State Bar: http://www.osbar.org/ (search "Restraining Orders and Domestic Violence").

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back to topHow do I renew (extend) the restraining order?

You can go back to the court where you originally filed the restraining order and request an extension.  There does not have to be a further act of abuse in order to get it renewed.*  A judge may renew (extend) the restraining order if s/he finds that you are reasonably afraid of further acts of abuse by the abuser (respondent) if the order is not renewed.**  If your child was included in the order, and now your child has reached the age of 18, s/he can get the order extended for himself/herself if s/he is reasonably afraid of further acts of abuse by the abuser (respondent) if the order is not renewed.**  Even if the original petitioner/parent does not want the order renewed for himself/herself, the child (who is now 18) can still get the renewed order for himself/herself (s/he does not have to file a new petition).***

In order for the court to renew your restraining order, you must request the renewal BEFORE your current order ends.

If the judge decides to grant the renewal, the abuser will be notified and served of the renewal. The abuser then has the right to request a hearing to fight the renewal. If the abuser requests a hearing, the judge will schedule the hearing within 21 days.****  If this happens, you might find it helpful to have an attorney.  Go to our OR Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals. 

* O.R.S. § 107.725(2)
** O.R.S. § 107.725(1)
*** O.R.S. § 107.725(3)
**** O.R.S. § 107.725(4)

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back to topWhat happens if I want to move?

Your order is good wherever you go in OR, but it is a good idea to alert your local law enforcement in the town you move to of the order when you move. You may also want to have your address changed officially by the court. However, if your new address is confidential from the abuser, be sure to ask the clerk if the new address will be kept private from the abuser if he checks the court records for any reason. Check with a local domestic violence organization for more help.

Additionally, 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 have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. To find out more information about your new state’s policies, go to Know the Laws and choose your state from the drop-down menu on the left side of the screen. Under the Restraining Order section, you will find information about “Enforcing an Out-of-State Order.”

You can also find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area. See the Where to Find Help for your state.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111) for information on enforcing your order there. They might be able to tell you if the new state requires you to register the order with that state. However, before registering the order, you should make sure that the new state will not notify the batterer that you are living there if this will be unsafe for you.

Note: Civil protective orders may not be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders may not be enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details. Please see our Military Info page for more information.

Keep in mind that if your order includes an order about custody or visitation of a minor child, you may have to give notice to the court and/or the abuser of your move, depending on what your order says.

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back to topWhat if I want to drop (dismiss) my permanent restraining order?

If you want to drop your restraining order, you need to go back to the court that issued your order and fill out dismissal papers (the court can give you these papers for free). You may have to talk to the judge and tell him/her why you want to drop the restraining order. Different judges have different ways of handling these requests. Some judges will ask you lots of questions, but other judges will just sign the dismissal order without asking you anything.

In some counties, the judge will tell you to go to a class with other domestic violence victims before the judge agrees to drop the order.

In some cases, the judge will try to help you figure out whether there is a way to modify (change) your order so that it can still give you some protection from abuse, but so that you can have the contact you want with the abuser.

If you have dropped your restraining order (or let it run out) and you are abused again by the same spouse or partner or by a different one, you can always go back to court for a new restraining order. However, the judge might not take your situation as seriously after you have dropped an order. Talking to a domestic violence advocate might help you decide which option is best for you. See OR State and Local Programs.

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