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Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
January 11, 2024

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of domestic violence restraining orders:

Emergency Protective Order
If a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, the police officer can call a judge anytime, day or night and ask that an emergency protective order be issued for you, which goes into effect immediately.1

A judge will only issue an emergency protective order if s/he believes that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence or that a child is in immediate or present danger of abuse or abduction by a parent or relative and that the order is necessary to prevent domestic violence, child abuse or child abduction.2

An emergency protective order can last only five business days or seven calendar days, whichever is shorter.3 An emergency protective order is supposed to give you time to go to court to ask for a domestic violence restraining order, which lasts longer. In the emergency order, the judge can include most of the protections that you can get in a regular DVRO, such as removing the abuser from the home and ordering him to have no contact with you. It can also give you temporary custody of your children.4 For other remedies that may be included, see How can a DVRO help me?

Temporary Ex Parte Restraining Order
When you go to court to apply for a restraining order, the clerk will give you a date, usually within three weeks, when you will have to come back to court for a full hearing. If you are in immediate danger and need protection right away, you can ask for a temporary ex parte restraining order, which can order the abuser to leave the home, have no contact with you, and offer many other forms of protection that are listed in How can a DVRO help me?If you file your petition for a DVRO electronically, the temporary ex parte order will be issued electronically.5

Restraining Order After Hearing
Whether or not you get a temporary order, you will be scheduled for a hearing to get a final DVRO, which you could attend in person or remotely. After having a court hearing, a judge can grant you a “restraining order after hearing” that can last up to five years. However, if there is no termination date on the order, the order will last three years from the date it was issued.6 See How can a DVRO help me? to read about all of the protections that you can get in a DVRO issued after a hearing. During the last three months of the order, you can ask the judge to have the order extended for another five years, or permanently. The judge can make this extension without you having to prove any further abuse.7

1 See Cal.Fam.Code § 6250
2 Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6250; 6251
3 Cal.Fam.Code § 6256
4 Cal.Fam.Code § 6252(a) & (b)
5 See Cal.Fam.Code § 6320; 6321; 6306.5(a)(1), (a)(2)
6 See Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6345(c); 6308(a)
7 Cal.Fam.Code § 6345(a)