HOW TO GET A RESTRAINING ORDER IN CALIFORNIA
Most restraining orders, also called protective orders, are sought by women. Men, even though they may be victims of the behavior that the orders protect against, are often reluctant to obtain them. This may be out of macho pride or another form of social prejudice, but if others, especially children, are involved or if the danger or threats are serious, pride should be set aside. Women victims of domestic violence can get help from one of the many women's support services in the state. Men can use the office of the Family Law Facilitator located in each county's family law courthouse. These services differ significantly in that those for women provide a range of services from shelters to counseling to helping with the legal paperwork and even to having an advocate accompany the person seeking protection to court. The Facilitator, on the other hand, would aid either or both sides and is limited to helping with the appropriate paperwork. It is a rare domestic violence support service that helps male victims of domestic violence. For more information on services available, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, TDD 1-800-787-3224. This guide is limited to a discussion of the California Family Law Protective Orders which differ from criminal orders primarily in that no one need be arrested for one to issue. They may be granted in an ongoing family law case, a new one or in a separate Domestic Violence Prevention case. Normally the process has two stages, a temporary order and a restraining order which can last up to three years and can be extended. The Temporary Restraining Order is granted at an Ex-Parte hearing. Each county's court has its own rules and forms for these hearings so, if you are not getting services, call the local family law court clerk and ask what the local rules are, when and where the ex-parte hearings are held. These are for immediate, emergency orders and the request can be denied until a hearing only if the court thinks that it is safe to do so. Therefore, if your request for a temporary order is denied, you must re-evaluate the seriousness of the behavior from which you are seeking protection. Ex-parte requests are generally decided on the paperwork alone. You may not even see the judge, let alone be able to plead your case. They may be granted without notice to the other party if there is risk in telling them about the hearing. The court will set a hearing within 20-25 days at which time the temporary orders will expire, the other side will have been served and can file responsive papers, both sides will be able to speak and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the Restraining Order. The purpose of a Restraining Order is to prevent a recurrence of or commission of domestic violence based on a reasonable proof of past abuse including threats. Notice that the degree of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt, but a much less difficult standard to meet. Your paperwork must give specific facts, not generalizations. It helps if there are witnesses who can write Declarations, phone records, photos or anything else that supports your case. Also, fear alone is not sufficient to get a Restraining Order, but it too must be "reasonable", a reasonable fear. To prove that it is reasonable, describe the exact behavior that is scary or harassing. The behaviors which a Restraining Order protects against are listed on one of the forms that must be filed with the court, the Request for Order DV-100 (http://courts.ca.gov/xbcr/cc/dv100.pdf) You can be protected from being harassed, attacked, struck, threatened, assaulted (sexually or otherwise), hit, followed, stalked, molested, having your personal property destroyed, your peace disturbed, being under surveillance, having your movements blocked, from being contacted personally, by phone, mail or email. These are all considered abuse and, therefore, the past abuse that merits protection. You can also get a variety of orders for your protection including that the restrained person stay away from you, your work , home, car, school and others in your care. You can get orders that the other person must move out, no matter who owns the residence; orders protecting children, custody, visitation, child support, spousal support (if you are married). You can get the temporary use of property such as a car or pet. The other person can be required to pay certain bills such as some necessary for you to live, lost earnings and medical bills arising from the behavior that necessitated the order. You can ask that the perpetrator attend a batterer's intervention/anger management group. All of the forms that you will need are available for free on line (http://courts.ca.gov/fforms.htm?filters=DV). The forms include some that give very useful how to information such as how to choose the right forms, what to do with them, how to prepare for court for both the protected and restrained persons. Most people abide by the restraining orders because the consequences of not doing so are severe and can include jail time. Police respond quickly to calls reporting violations of the orders. However, if someone is absolutely committed to doing you harm, such an order may not stop them. In such an extreme cse, get the order, but also find a shelter.