If you are the Petitioner, check the box on the forms asking for attorney's fees even if you don't have an attorney at the time you filed your TRO papers. Why? The law says that you may be entitled to have your attorney's fees paid for by the person who abused you. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney represent you at the court hearing even if you think you cannot afford one. Under the right facts, a family law attorney may take on your case for a small up-front retainer (and then ask for attorney's fees to be paid for by the person who abused you).
If you are the Respondent, give serious consideration to hiring an experienced family law attorney to represent you at the court hearing. Why? If the Judge believes you committed domestic violence, then it may prevent you from having custody of your children. Also, if you lose at the court hearing, you may be ordered to pay the Petitioner's attorney's fees and costs.
What forms need to be filed to ask for a TRO in California?
DV-100 Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order, CLETS-001 Confidential CLETS information, DV-109 Notice of Court Hearing, DV-110 Temporary Restraining Order
If you are asking for child custody and visitation orders, you will also need to file the following forms:
DV-105 Request for Child Custody and Visitation Orders, DV-140 Child Custody and Visitation Order
If you want child support or alimony, you will also need to file the following form:
FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration
After the TRO forms are completed, you must file them with the Court.
A judge will then take a look at court papers and decide whether to grant the TRO. Sometimes the judge will want to talk with you and ask you some questions. Other times, the judge may simply grant the TRO after reviewing the court papers.
If the judge grants the TRO, it must then be served on the Respondent. You must have someone serve the papers on the Respondent--you cannot do it yourself. A family friend or family member can serve the papers, or the Sheriff's Department will do so for you.
Why is service of process important?
You must have the TRO papers properly served because the Respondent is entitled to due process of law. Generally speaking, this means the Respondent must be given an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story.
What is the next step?
When the judge granted the TRO, the Court set a hearing date which is written on your court papers. Both parties must appear at the Court hearing. This is when each party tells the judge his or her side of the story.
What will happen at the domestic violence restraining order hearing?
The judge may ask questions of you and the other party. If either party is represented by an attorney, the attorney will ask questions of both parties and make legal arguments about why the TRO should be granted or denied. Then, the Court will decide if the TRO should be granted on a permanent basis.