Obtaining A Restraining Order In California

If you feel threatened and are seeking protection from someone, California law provides you options to keep you safe. Obtaining a restraining order may be the best way to keep you and your family safe from harassment and abuse.

What Is A Restraining Order?

Like all laws, restraining orders vary from state to state, include a wide range of protections, and are used in an array of different cases. But what is a restraining order? A restraining order is an official order from a court requiring a person to cease certain activities. These orders are issued to protect one or more people from an individual who has threatened or injured them.

Understand that a restraining order can carry many different names, depending on the jurisdiction in which the order was originally issued. They may be called restraining orders, a protection order, orders of protection, and injunctions. While there are many names, they all are used in the same manner.

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Restraining Orders In California

If you feel you or your immediate family members are in danger from a spouse, partner, or family member and you are looking to obtain a restraining order in the State of California you can expect to follow the following process.

First of all, be sure you file for a restraining order as soon as you feel you need to do so. This will keep you and our family safe as well as help the courts make the proper decision. Also, if too much time has passed from last act of abuse, usually 30 days, the courts may not be able to issue a restraining order. To best protect you and your family be sure you collect as much evidence as possible to present to the courts. Evidence may include things like text messages, emails, police reports, 911 calls, hospital or doctor reports, and more.

To file for a restraining order you (or your attorney) will need to fill out a number of forms and submit them to the court. These forms require you to document:

  • who is to be protected, including family or household members,
  • who you are filing the order against,
  • any history of restraining orders or court cases between the two parties,
  • the type of restraining order for which you are asking,
  • specifics such as child support, property control, financial provisions, debt payment, etc., and
  • documentation of abuse or harassment.

Also, if too much time has passed from last act of abuse, usually 30 days, the courts may not be able to issue a restraining order. To best protect you and your family be sure you collect as much evidence as possible to present to the courts. Evidence may include things like text messages, emails, police reports, 911 calls, hospital or doctor reports, and more.

Additional Documentation

In addition to the form above you will also need to fill out a form requesting a court hearing and a form asking for a temporary restraining order. You may also be required to submit a number of supplemental forms dealing with various topics like child custody, financial forms, or other local court forms.

If you filled these forms out yourself, it is important you have a family law attorney review these forms to make sure they are correct. Once you have all of your forms ready, make enough copies of the forms so that you can properly document the process. It is suggested to make at least 5 copies of your forms, one for the court, one for you, one for the person you are seeking protection from, and a copy for each person this order will protect.

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Filing With The Court

Once you have completed the appropriate documentation you will need to submit all of your papers to the court. To do this you will need to give the original papers to your local clerk of courts who will pass them along to the judge. Within one business day of filing you will know how the judge has ruled on your filing. Once your judge makes a ruling you will know,

  • if your temporary restraining order has been granted,
  • your court date, and
  • what provisions your judge has granted (these provisions may not include all of your original asks).

Once the judge has made a decision to grant you a restraining order it will be officially filed with the court. There is no cost to you to file a restraining order.

Serving The Restraining Order

After being granted a court date a third-party representative must deliver the court papers to the other party. The person serving the papers must be over the age of 18 and not protected by the order itself. In the case of domestic abuse, you may ask a law enforcement official to deliver the papers, free of charge. In all cases you may also hire someone, called a process server, to serve the papers.

You cannot have your case heard in the courts if the papers have not been served. You will need to provide proof of service at your hearing. If, for whatever reason, the other party has not been able to be served in time for your hearing you can ask for a continuance to give you more time to serve the restrained party. However, this will require you to file additional paperwork with the courts.

After being granted a court date a third-party representative must deliver the court papers to the other party. The person serving the papers must be over the age of 18 and not protected by the order itself. In the case of domestic abuse, you may ask a law enforcement official to deliver the papers, free of charge. In all cases you may also hire someone, called a process server, to serve the papers.

Your Day In Court

When your day in court has arrived it is important to be prepared and arrive early so you do not miss your court time. You will want to make sure that you have copies of all documentation, including copies of your original court documents, your proof of service, and any documentation which can help your case like photos, emails, phone messages, etc.

During the court proceeding you will be able to present your case to the judge. Be sure you know what you are going to say and practice before hand. Understand that the judge and the accused person (or their lawyer) may ask you questions. Remember to remain calm and professional in your answers.

After your case has been heard by the judge they will issue their decision. Know that they can decide to give you all of your requested protections, some of your requested protections, or none at all. Depending on a number of factors, the judge may not make a ruling that day and schedule another court date in the future. If you have been given a new court date, be sure you or your attorney speaks with the clerk of courts to confirm how you can extend the temporary restraining order.

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Once a final decision has been made you may be asked to fill out some forms which will include the exact orders the judge issued. Some jurisdictions have the clerk fill this out for you but be sure you and your attorney read over the order to make sure the restraining order includes everything the judge decided upon. As with the temporary restraining order, you must serve the restraining order to the opposite party. Once you have a proof of service be sure to keep your copy on your person, with the restraining order itself so you can provide evidence to law enforcement if needed.

Staying Protected With A Restraining Order In California

The Family Law firm of Bruce A. Mandel is here to provide you with expert legal aid to keep you and your family safe. If you are looking to be protected by a restraining order in California, call us immediately at (424) 250-9130 or contact us online.