Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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October 30, 2023

What protections can I get in a civil protection order?

In a temporary or final 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 order;
  • stay away from you, any other protected person, and any other specific locations;
  • have no contact with you and any other protected person;
  • not enter the home or leave the home where you are living 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 who is not the respondent;
  • give back or stop using property that you own together or you own individually;
  • participate in a psychiatric, medical treatment, or counseling program for domestic violence, parenting, alcohol, drugs, etc.;
  • pay your costs and attorney fees;
  • give up possession of any firearms or ammunition and not get any new firearms or ammunition;
  • give you financial assistance and/or spousal support to pay your rent/mortgage/bills or other expenses;
  • stay away from and not harm any animal you own, including ordering the abuser to give you back an animal that belongs to you but is in the abuser’s possession;
  • pay you child support;
  • not remove you and/or your children from his/her health insurance policy; and
  • reimburse you for medical costs, property damage, or other expenses you have due to the abuser’s actions, assuming you have medical bills, receipts, invoices, or estimates that you can bring to the final hearing. 1

The order can also:

  • order temporary custody of your children. If the abuser asks for custody, s/he needs to show the judge that custody will not endanger the child or harm the child’s development;
  • order temporary visitation. If the abuser asks for visitation, s/he needs to show the judge that visitation will not endanger the child or significantly harm the child’s emotional development);
  • 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; and
  • 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 § 16-1004(c)

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