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Legal Information: California

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of January 11, 2024

Can I get my out-of-state protection order enforced in California? What are the requirements?

Your out-of-state protection order can be enforced in California 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;1
  • 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; and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • 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.2

Your protective order from a different state can be enforced both by judges as well as police officers in California.3  A judge is required to even enforce parts of your order that could not legally be included in a California DVRO.4  A California police officer can immediately enforce a protective order from another state so long as you have a copy that the officer believes is legitimate (valid).5  So, it’s a good idea to always keep a copy of your order on you so that you can show it to a police officer if you need to.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protection order (MPO) off the military installation or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)
3 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code §§ 6402; 6403
4 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6402
5 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 6403

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in CA?

Generally, only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You likely cannot have this done by a court in California.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone or electronic means rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in California, you may be able to get a new one issued in California but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in California.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in California, visit our CA Restraining Orders page.

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in California?

As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 California can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order. To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area, go to our Finding a Lawyer page.

You can also register your custody order from a different state in California. To do so, you should send all of the following to the court in your county:

  • a letter requesting registration;
  • two copies, one of which is certified, of your custody judgment, and a sworn statement that to the best of your knowledge, the order has not been modified; and
  • your name and address – although when there has been domestic violence, you don’t have to give your address to the court.2

An out-of-state custody order that is registered in California can be enforced as if the order were issued by a California court.  However, the abuser will be notified of the registration and have the chance to contest it being registered in your new state.2  If you are trying to keep your location confidential from the abuser, registering the order would likely not be a good idea since it will let him know what county in California you are living in.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and it must be consistent with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980; see also Cal.Fam.Code § 3443; 28 U.S.C. § 1738A
2 Cal.Fam.Code § 3445