How do I get my restraining order enforced in another state?
Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your restraining order enforced in another state.
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 restraining 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. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.
Note: It is important to keep a copy of your restraining order 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 restraining order enforced?
In most states, you will need a certified copy of your Restraining Order. A certified copy says 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.
In Rhode Island, a certified copy has a raised seal. If your copy is not a certified copy, call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask for a certified copy. You can find contact information for courthouses in Rhode Island on our RI Courthouse Location & Info page.
Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
Can I get someone to help me through this process? Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to get your restraining order enforced in another state.
However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state where you move. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.
To find a domestic violence advocate, go to our Advocates and Shelters page. To find an attorney in the state you are moving to, go to the Finding a Lawyer page. You can select your state from the drop-down menu.