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Legal Information: Puerto Rico

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of November 25, 2023

What is a protection order?

A protection order is a civil court order signed by a judge, that tells the abuser to not do specific acts of domestic violence and can include other protections for you and your child(ren).1 It is not necessary to press criminal charges or file a police report in order to get one.2

1 See 8 L.P.R.A § 602(i)
2 See 8 L.P.R.A § 621

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Puerto Rico?

This section defines domestic violence to get a protection order. “Domestic violence” is when a current or former partner repeatedly uses physical force, psychological violence, intimidation, financial abuse or harassment to cause physical harm to yourself, your property, or another person to cause you severe emotional harm.1

In the case of intimidation and psychological violence, the judge can consider animal abuse as part of those behaviors. 2 

1 See 8 L.P.R.A. § 602(r)
2 8 L.P.R.A. § 602(h), (s), (t)

What protections can I get in a protection order?

A protection order can do the following:

  • give you temporary custody of your children;
  • if you are staying in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, suspend the relationship between the children and the abuser, after considering many factors listed in the law;
  • suspend the abuser’s license to operate a firearm;
  • order the abuser to:
    • temporarily hand over any firearms that s/he owns to the Puerto Rico police;
    • leave (vacate) the home that you share with him/her;
    • not bother, harass, follow, intimidate, or threaten you;
    • not interfere with your temporary custody of the children;
    • not deny you access to the children and not take them out of Puerto Rico;
    • stay a certain distance away from wherever you are;
    • pay spousal and child support, if s/he is legally obligated to do so;
    • not destroy or get rid of your private property or any joint property;
    • share any financial information regarding accounts or finances that involve you or your children, including keeping you informed about communications, arrangements, and accounts receivable claims, mortgages, rent, or any administrative or court proceedings related to debt collection;
    • notify you of any government assistance that s/he is applying for or receiving;
    • not use your financial resources inappropriately, including your money, property, or credit information; 
    • continue making rent or mortgage payments for the primary residence while the order is in effect;
    • pay for damages caused by the domestic violence, including:
      • moving expenses;
      • expenses for property repairs;
      • legal, medical, psychiatric, psychological, counseling, lodging, shelter, and other similar expenses;
    • not bother, harass, stalk, intimidate, threaten, or interfere in any way with your work activities; and
  • order anything else that the judge believes is necessary to keep you and your family safe.1

1 See 8 L.P.R.A. § 621

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.