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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
April 5, 2024

Can I file for a civil protection order if I am a minor?

Whether you can file on your own will depend on your age and who you are filing against.

  • If you are 16 or 17, you can file by yourself in all cases.1
  • If you are age 13 through 15, you can file your petition on your own if you are a victim of an intrafamily offense, sexual assault, or child sex trafficking.2
  • If you are age 12 or under, your parent, guardian, or custodian must file the petition on your behalf.3 The parent, guardian or custodian must come to all court dates, but the minor is not required to be present at any of the court dates.4

If you are age 13 through 17 and you would like someone to file on your behalf instead of filing on your own, the following people can do so:

  • a parent, legal guardian, legal custodian, or physical custodian;
  • an adult who is related to you by blood, adoption, legal custody, physical custody, marriage, or domestic partnership; or
  • a sexual assault youth victim advocate.5

Whenever a parent or guardian files the petition for a minor who is age 13 or older, the judge has to consider the minor’s wishes in deciding whether to issue the final protection order and in determining what terms will be included in that order.6

If you fall into one of the categories that requires you to have a parent, guardian, custodian or other appropriate adult file for you but no one is willing to do so, the Attorney General may file the petition on your behalf if you, your representative, or a government agency make this request to the Attorney General. In this case, though, the Attorney General actually represents the interests of the District of Columbia and not specifically your particular interests.7 You are not legally required to be at the court dates.8

Note: If you are a minor filing by yourself but you live with your parent, guardian, or custodian, the court will send a copy of your court papers to that parent, guardian, or custodian, unless the judge feels that it would not be in your best interests to do so. The judge might then send the notice of the court hearing to another appropriate adult.9

The court can appoint an attorney for a minor if the minor does not have an attorney, and if appointing an attorney would not delay a judge’s decision on a TPO or CPO.10

1 D.C. Code § 16-1003(a)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1003(b)
3 D.C. Code § 16-1003(c)
4 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(2)
5 D.C. Code § 16-1003(d)
6 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(3)
7 D.C. Code § 16-1003(f)(1)(A)
8 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(1)
9 D.C. Code § 16-1007(b)
10 D.C. Code § 16-1003(g)