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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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October 29, 2020

What protections can I get in a civil protection order?

In a civil protection order, a judge can order the abuser to:

  • stop committing or threatening to commit criminal offenses against you and any other protected person (named in the petition);
  • stay-away from you, any other protected person, and any other specific locations (“stay-away order”);
  • have no contact with you and any other protected person (“no-contact order”);
  • not enter the home or to leave the home where you are living (“vacate order”) if that home is:
    • marital property of the parties;
    • jointly owned, leased, or rented and occupied by you and the abuser (including if you used to live there but had to leave due to the abuse);
    • owned, leased, or rented by you alone; or
    • jointly owned, leased, or rented by you and another person (not the respondent);
  • participate in a psychiatric or medical treatment or counseling program(s) for domestic violence, parenting, alcohol, drugs, etc.;
  • pay your costs and attorney fees;
  • give up possession of any firearms;
  • return personal property owned by you alone or by you and the abuser (including keys);1
  • give you financial assistance and/or spousal support to pay your rent/mortgage/bills or other expenses;
  • pay you child support;
  • not remove you and/or your children from his/her health insurance policy;
  • reimburse you for medical costs, property damage, or other expenses you have due to the abuser’s actions (you will have to bring medical bills, receipts, invoices, or estimates to the final hearing);2

The order can also:

  • grant you temporary custody of your children and arrange visitation in a way to protect your safety (Note: The abuser has to prove to the judge that visitation will not endanger the child or significantly harm the child’s emotional development);3
  • order police assistance to help enforce the terms of the order (such as getting your keys returned or escorting the abuser home to collect personal belongings);
  • give you custody or control of a domestic animal that belongs to you, to the respondent, or that lives in either household; and/or
  • order anything else that you can show you need in order to be free from the violence.1

Whether or not the judge grants any or all of these depends on the facts of your case.

1 D.C. Code § 16-1005(c)
2 See Petition and Affidavit for Civil Protection Order
3 D.C. Code § 16-1005(c-1)