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Know the Laws: California

UPDATED January 2, 2017

Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order

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If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your restraining order can still be enforceable.

General rules

back to topCan I get my DVRO from California enforced in another state?

Yes.  Federal law states that all valid DVROs granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.*  See How do I know if my DVRO is good under federal law? to find out if your DVRO qualifies.

If you have a valid California DVRO that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state.  Each state must enforce out-of-state DVROs in the same way it enforces its own orders.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265

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back to topHow do I know if my DVRO is good under federal law?

A DVRO is good anywhere in the United States 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.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
    • 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.**
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.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

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back to topI have a temporary ex-parte restraining order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my DVRO is good under federal law?*

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

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Getting your California restraining order enforced in another state

back to topHow do I get my DVRO enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your domestic violence retraining order (DVRO) enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid DVRO is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.* Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our State and Local Programs page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

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back to topDo I need anything special to get my DVRO enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your DVRO.  A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it.  In California, a certified order is stamped with a seal and endorsed by the court clerk.*

The 5 copies you originally received in court when you got your DVRO should have been certified copies.  If you no longer have a certified copy, go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk's office for a certified copy.  Although you cannot be charged a fee when you initially received the 5 certified copies,* it is possible that for additional certified copies there may be a charge.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times.  You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move.  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 photo of the abuser.  Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

* Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6387

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back to topCan I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your DVRO enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to.  A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your DVRO, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page and then click on State and Local Programs to find an advocate or click on Finding a Lawyer to find legal help.

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back to topDo I need to tell the court in California if I move?

It may be a good idea to contact the court if you are moving since the court that gave you your DVRO may need to have an up-to-date mailing address for you in case the abuser asks the court to dismiss the order or change it in any way.  However, before giving your new address, if it is a confidential one, make sure that the court will keep it confidential from the abuser.  If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may want to use the address of a trusted friend or a P.O. box instead.

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Enforcing custody provisions in another state

back to topI was granted temporary custody with my DVRO. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe.  It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your DVRO.  You may have to first seek the permission of the judge before leaving.  If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the judge that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

To read more about custody laws in California, go to our Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a domestic violence advocate or lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the CA area on our CA Where to Find Help page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my DVRO. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes.  Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a DVRO can be enforced across state lines.  Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.*

* 18 U.S.C. §§ 2266(5); 2265

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