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Legal Information: Connecticut

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of January 3, 2024

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a restraining order (also known as a relief from abuse order) there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Connecticut have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some things that you may want to consider when leaving the courthouse. You will have to evaluate each one and decide if it is safe and appropriate for you to do it.

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If you see any errors, you can ask the clerk how to correct them.
  • Make several copies of the restraining order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the restraining order with you at all times. Leave copies at your workplace, 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.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.

You may also wish to make a safety plan. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Go to our Safety Planning page for suggestions.

I was not granted a restraining order. What are my options?

If you are not granted a restraining order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence organizations in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Planning page. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the CT Advocates and Shelters page.

If you were not granted a restraining order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a “family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through the criminal law system if a crime was committed.

You may also be able to reapply for restraining order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. For general information, go to our Filing an Appeal page.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a restraining order can be against the law and there are two ways to report the violation.

Through the Police or Sheriff
If the defendant violates the restraining order, you can call 911 or otherwise report it to law enforcement. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officer you have a restraining order and the defendant is violating it. If the defendant is arrested, the case will go to the district attorney for possible prosecution. The respondent can be charged with a criminal violation of a restraining order, which can be a class D or class C felony, depending on the circumstances. Depending on the crime that the abuser is convicted of, the respondent can face imprisonment of up to five years or up to ten years, a fine of up to five thousand dollars or up to ten thousand dollars, or both a fine and imprisonment.1

Through the Civil Court System
You may also file a motion for civil contempt for a violation of the order. Then, there will be a hearing held within five court days of when the motion is served on the abuser (as long as the service is made not less than 24 hours before the hearing). The abuser can be “held in civil contempt” if s/he does anything that your restraining order tells him/her not to do and the judge can order whatever punishment that the judge believes is appropriate.2 To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 See C.G.S. §§ 46b-15(f); 53a-223; 53a-35a(7), (8)
2 C.G.S. § 46b-15(j)

Is there anything I can do if my abusive partner continually files court proceedings against me?

In any family relations matter, the judge has the power to punish (sanction) the abuser if s/he is filing motions or petitions in a pattern that the judge believes is “frivolous and intentionally fabricated.” In other words, there is no good reason for the abuser to file against you and s/he is making up these claims. If you think the abuser is doing this, you can file a motion or raise the issue with the judge while you are in court. If the judge does sanction the abuser, the punishment will be focused on making the case move forward without delay.1

“Family relations matters” means the following types of cases:

  1. separation, annulment, or divorce proceedings;
  2. alimony, support, and custody related to a separation, annulment, or divorce;
  3. name changes;
  4. relief from abuse orders;
  5. civil support obligations;
  6. custody and visitation, including habeas corpus;
  7. habeas corpus cases brought on behalf of a mentally ill person, unless that person has been charged with a crime;
  8. appointment of a commission to investigate whether someone is wrongfully confined;
  9. juvenile matters;
  10. paternity/parentage;
  11. appeals from probate court related to:
    • adoption or termination of parental rights;
    • appointment and removal of a guardian or conservator;
    • custody; or
    • orders of commitment;
  12. any of the following from another state or country:
    • prenuptial or separation agreements;
    • matrimonial or civil union decrees; or
    • divorce, separation, or annulment of a civil union;
  13. interstate custody under the UCCJEA; or
  14. any other matter concerning children or family relations that are within the power (jurisdiction) of the Superior Court.2 

1 C.G.S. § 46b-1a
2 C.G.S. § 46b-1(a)

Can I change or extend my order?

To change (modify) your order, you would file a modification petition with the clerk and a hearing would be held.

To extend an order, you would file a motion to extend the order with the clerk and a hearing would be held. The order can be renewed for such additional time as the judge believes is necessary.1 The Connecticut Judicial Branch website suggests filing the motion to extend two to three weeks before your order is set to expire.2

1 C.G.S. § 46b-15(g)
2 Connecticut Judicial Branch website’s brochure

What happens if I move? Is my order still effective?

Your order is good everywhere in Connecticut and in the U.S.  The federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Different states may have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders.  If you are moving out of state, you may want to call the domestic violence organization in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.  Go to our Advocates and Shelters page and enter  your state in the drop-down menu.  You may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111 x2) if you have any questions.

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.

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)