Written by attorney Cathleen Elisabeth Norton

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Child Custody - Can I lose custody of my children?


The reason why it is important to hire an experienced family law attorney if you have been served with a TRO is because the court may take away custody of your children if the judge determines that you have abused your spouse, girlfriend, child's mother, etc.

Upon a finding by the court that a party perpetrated domestic violence against the other party within the previous 5 years, there is a rebuttable presumption that awarding custody to the perpetrator of domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child.

This means that if a judge finds that you abused your spouse, for example, the court can take away custody of your children.

When one party files for a temporary restraining order (TRO), you have a constitutional right to have a domestic violence trial within about 3 weeks. Therefore, you must hire an experienced family law attorney immediately so you and your attorney can begin preparing for your trial.

  • If the TRO said that you cannot see your children pending the trial, then don't.
  • If the TRO said that you cannot go to your children's school or daycare, then don't.
  • If the TRO said you cannot go to the other person's place of employment, then don't.
  • If the TRO said you cannot go to the other person's home, then don't.
  • If the TRO said you have to move out, then find a temporary place to stay until your trial.

Do not try to contact the other party directly or indirectly by text or email. Do not have any of your friends try to contact the other party on your behalf.

If you happen to see the other party at the grocery store, mall, park, gym, for example, then leave immediately and do not approach the other party at all.


You will have an opportunity to present your side of the story, but you must be patient. You only have 3 weeks to work with your attorney to prepare your domestic violence case for trial, so stay focused and listen to your attorney's advice.

There are only 2 possible outcomes of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Trial:

  1. The court grants a permanent domestic violence restraining order;
  2. The court dissolves the TRO and dismisses the case.

If the court grants the permanent domestic violence restraining order, then the judge can make custody and visitation orders pertaining to your children.

If the judge gives you any visitation at all, your custody may be supervised by a professional or non-professional monitor. The cost of a professional monitor is approximately $40-$75 per hour, which you may have to pay in order to see your children during your custodial time.

The stakes in a domestic violence restraining order case are very high. You could have a permanent mark on your record and you could lose custody of your children. If the court grants a permanent restraining order, the judge can also make orders regarding custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Therefore, you would be well-served by hiring an experienced family law attorney early in the case so you have the best possible chances of winning at the domestic violence restraining order trial.

If you would like help in your restraining order case, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021. You may also want to look at some commonly asked questions and answers about family law, which can be found at NortonFamilyLaw website.

The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton is a Los Angeles top family law firm dedicated to protecting your legal rights. Our goal is to empower you. Our job is to protect you. Cathleen E. Norton, an experienced family law attorney who obtained both her B.A. and J.D. credentials from UCLA. You won't find a better qualified attorney to represent you! We have offices in Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, and Westlake Village and service family law cases in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Call us today for a free consultation at (310) 300-4021. For more information about the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton, please visit our website._

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Avvo child custody email series

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer