Written by attorney Cathleen Elisabeth Norton

Domestic Violence TRO: What You Need to Know


TRO is short for Temporary Restraining Order. A TRO is a court order that can help protect you from someone who has abused or threatened to hurt you. The person asking for the TRO is called the "protected party" or the "Petitioner." The person who has allegedly abused the Petitioner is called the "restrained person" or "Respondent."

A domestic violence restraining order can also affect child custody and child support. Many people also find it surprising to learn that a domestic violence restraining order may also affect their employment because the TRO is registered into a statewide computer system that lets police know about the restraining order. This means that if you are pulled over for a routine traffic violation, the police will be able to find out that you have a restraining order against you. Employers may also find out about a TRO if they do a background check.

Top TRO Tips from Los Angeles Divorce Attorney, Cathleen E. Norton, Esq.

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 file 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 if you win at the court hearing. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney represent you at the 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.

California law says that there is "a rebuttable presumption" that awarding custody to the perpetrator of domestic violence is NOT in the best interest of the children. So if the judge finds that you perpetrated domestic violence, you have an uphill battle with regard to child custody. And because custody and child support are directly related to each other, it makes financial sense to have a family law attorney represent you at the restraining order hearing. Otherwise, you may lose custody of your children which will cost you more in child support over the long run. Make sense? If not, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021 regarding your domestic violence restraining order case and we will be happy to assist you.

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 want your children to be protected by the TRO and 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. Click for a list of Los Angeles Superior Court locations.

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.

The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton is a 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, Esq. is 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 at

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