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Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
April 4, 2019

If I qualify for both a DVRO and a CHO, which one should I apply for?

If the person harassing you is an intimate partner or family or household member, you will likely want to file for a domestic violence restraining order ("DVRO") instead of a civil harassment order ("CHO") for the following reasons:

  1. There is a lower burden of proof to get a DVRO versus a CHO ("preponderance of the evidence" versus "clear and convincing evidence").1 In other words, it is easier for a judge to grant you a DVRO than it is for the judge to grant you a CHO.
  2. There is a broader definition of what is considered "abuse" in a DVRO than in a CHO. So, let's say you believe the acts committed against you come are harassment so you file for a CHO. But, then it turns out that the incidents don't actually meet the legal definition for harassment. If you applied for a CHO and can't prove harassment, the order would be denied. If you applied for a DVRO, however, it's possible that the acts may come under one of the other legal grounds for which you can get a DVRO, such as "disturbing your peace" or "destroying your property."2
  3. There are additional protections available in a DVRO that you cannot normally get in a CHO, such as:
    • having the abuser removed from the home you are both living in together even if you do not own the home or you are not the tenant;3
    • granting you child support and spousal support (if you are married);4
    • granting 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
    • ordering the abuser to pay back money you lost for missing work or other expenses (such as ambulance, medical, dental, shelter, counseling fees) that resulted from the abuse;6
    • ordering the abuser to attend a batterer's treatment program or other counseling service;7
    • transferring a shared cell phone account into your name alone so that you can keep your existing wireless telephone number and the wireless numbers of any minor children in your care;8 and
    • giving you temporary child custody and making an order for visitation.9
  4. To get a temporary CHO, you need to prove that there is a likelihood of future harm. To get a temporary DVRO, you do not need to prove this.10

1 Cal.C.C.P. § 526.7(i); Gdowski v. Gdowski, 175 Cal.App.4th 128 (2009)​
2 Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6203; 6320(a)
3 Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6321(a); 6340(c)
4 Cal.Fam.Code § 6341
5 Cal.Fam.Code § 6324
6 Cal.Fam.Code § 6342
7 Cal.Fam.Code § 6343
8 Cal.Fam.Code § 6347(a)
9 Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6323; 6252; 6340(a)
10 Cal.C.C.P. § 526.7(d)