If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you can take steps to legally protect yourself. A restraining order is one tool that may be available. This court-ordered document tells the abusive individual to stay away from and have no contact with you, as well as place other restrictions and requirements on them. Different restraining orders may be issued in California, including emergency, temporary, and permanent. The processes for asking for a restraining order and presenting your arguments can be complicated. Hiring an attorney to help with your case may be beneficial.
What a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Is
A domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) is a court order from a California court protecting people from physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse. The harm must have been done by someone the victim is close to, such as a spouse or former spouse.
The DVRO legally warns and restricts the abuser from engaging in certain activities and having contact with the victim. If you feel like you are in danger or have already been subject to violence or threats, you can seek justice by applying for a restraining order, taking an essential step toward safety.
What a DVRO Does
A domestic violence restraining order provides an essential layer of protection for survivors, offering those who feel threatened peace of mind.
The document is an official court order that can place many restrictions and requirements on your abuser.
These can include the following:
- Not contacting you,
- Avoiding your home, work, or school,
- Kicking your abuser out of your home,
- Ordering your abuser to pay child support,
- Setting up a child custody and visitation schedule,
- Not allowing your abuser to have a gun,
- Requiring your abuser to complete a batterer intervention program,
- And more.
Once the court has issued the order, if your abuser is found to have violated it, the police can arrest them and take them into custody.
The Levels of Restraining Orders
Different types of restraining orders can be issued depending on your situation.
The following are the levels of DVROs issued by California courts:
- Emergency: This may be requested by a police officer after responding to a domestic violence call.
- Temporary: You can ask for this type of order. You must tell the court what abuse has occurred and why you need protection. A judge may grant your request if they find that you have been and are still at risk of being harmed. The order may be issued without holding a hearing where your abuser is present. It is valid until your next scheduled court date.
- Permanent: The court may issue this order only after holding a hearing where you and your abuser are present. Each of you may present your side of the story, arguing whether the DVRO is needed. A permanent order can remain effective for up to 5 years.
The Process for Obtaining a DVRO
Obtaining a domestic violence restraining order can be complex.
The process involves several steps, which include the following:
- Filing forms with the court,
- Waiting for a judge to decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order,
- Receiving hearing date for a permanent restraining order,
- Serving the abuser with a copy of the court papers that inform them of the court date (this step must be done by someone 18 years of age or older who is not involved in the case),
- Attending the hearing at which both the abuser and the victim present their cases, and
- Waiting for the judge’s decision.
Getting Prepared for the Final Hearing
Preparing for a DVRO hearing can be daunting, as you must make your case for why the judge should have the order of protection continue. You can take a few steps to help get ready for your court date.
First, make sure you have a record of the instance of abuse and the date and time it took place.
Next, collect evidence, such as pictures or documents, to support your arguments.
Additionally, remind witnesses about the hearing a few days before, ensuring that they appear as required.
Also, be sure you know when your hearing is and show up on the correct date at the right time. You may want to plan on getting to court a little earlier to account for any potential delays like traffic.
During the hearing, you will want to answer questions calmly and keep your responses brief. Familiarizing yourself with possible questions and practicing what you will say is a good idea.
With some pre-thought and attention to detail, you can feel more confident as you prepare to make your case in court.
When to Seek Legal Support
If you need a domestic violence restraining order, retain legal help as soon as possible. A family law lawyer can explain your rights and the process for asking for protection. They can also assist in gathering evidence, completing documents, and preparing for the hearing.
At Claery & Hammond, LLP, our San Diego lawyers provide compassionate guidance for those in need of protection from a family or household member.Schedule a consultation by calling us at (619) 567-6704 or contacting us online.