Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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April 4, 2019

What protections can I get in a DVRO?

A domestic violence restraining order may order the abuser to not do the following to you, your children, and/or your family/household members:

  • assault, threaten, abuse, follow, stalk, sexually assault, destroy the property of, come within a certain distance of, disturb the peace of, harass or make contact (directly or indirectly) on the telephone or by other means.

The DVRO can also:

  • Grant you the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned or held by either you, the abuser, or a child residing in either of your households and order the abuser to stay away from and not harm the animal;1
  • Order the abuser to be removed from the home you are both living in together even if you do not own the home or you are not the tenant;2
  • Prohibit the abuser from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition;3
  • Order the abuser to pay child support and spousal support (if you are married);4
  • Grant you temporary possession of things that you own together such as a second home, a car, a computer, etc. The judge can also order the abuser to pay ongoing debts associated with those items; 5
  • Order the abuser to pay back money you lost for missing work or other expenses (such as ambulance, medical, dental, shelter, counseling and/or legal fees) that resulted from the abuse;6
  • Order the abuser to pay your attorney fees if you are unable to pay them and if the abuser earns more money than you do;7
  • Order the abuser to attend a batterer's treatment program or other counseling service;8 and
  • Grant anything else you ask for that the judge agrees to.

If you and the abuser have children together, you may also ask the judge to grant additional things such as:

  • Temporary child custody and visitation - The judge can decide where the children will live, which parent will make decisions affecting the children, and how the children will spend time with each parent (including where, when, and whether that time is supervised or not).9Note: Any order for custody, visitation, or support that is made within your DVRO will continue to be effective even when the DVRO ends. You may want to ask the judge to specifically write this fact into the DVRO to make future enforcement of it easier;10
  • Child support payments - You may ask the judge to order the abuser to pay child support according to California's guidelines. Please see our Can I get support when I file a DVRO? section for more information.

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

Note: In addition, a victim of abuse can petition the court to transfer a shared cell phone account into the victim's name alone. The purpose of the law is to ensure that the victim can keep his/her existing wireless telephone number, and the wireless numbers of any minor children in his/her care when the abuser is the account holder.11

1 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6320(a); 6340(a)
2 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6321(a); 6340(c)
3 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6304
4 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6341
5 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6324
6 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6342
7 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6344
8 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6343
9 Ann.Cal. Fam.Code §§ 6323; 6252
10 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6340(a)
11 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6347(a)