WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Puerto Rico

Restraining Orders

View all
Updated: 
December 13, 2019

How do I get my protection order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection order enforced in another state. However, many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid protection order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. For example, a state may request that you register your order so that the court and the police know about the order.

Even though knowing the applicable state law may make it easier for an order to be enforced, a protection order has to be enforced even if it wasn’t registered in the new state.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your PO with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my protective order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order, which you may want to keep with you at all times. A certified copy shows that it is a true and correct copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp or seal on it.

If the copy you originally received is not a certified copy, you can go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk’s office for a certified copy. There may be a fee to get a certified (true test) copy of your protective order, but you can ask the clerk to be sure.

Note: It is generally a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. You may want to 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. You may also want to give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your protective order enforced in another state. However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to if you want to get help on deciding whether or not to register your order. To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the Places that Help tab.

Do I need to tell the court in Puerto Rico if I move?

You are not required to tell the court in Puerto Rico if you move. However, it might be a good idea to leave a confidential address or a PO Box so that the court can notify you of any changes/incidents with your protection order. Make sure that the abuser is not able to see your address when you give your confidential address to the court.