California – Obtaining a Restraining Order

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DIFFICULTY: Legal help may be required

Initial Filing Fee: $0

Restraining orders exist to help protect people from harassment, abuse and instances of violence. Filing a restraining order ensures that you are legally protected from contact with a person you fear may be abusive. There are 3 basic types of restraining orders: domestic violence – for orders against people who are currently or have previously been spouses, domestic partners, roommates, and for family members, civil harassment – for orders against anyone who doesn’t fall into the domestic category, and elder or dependent adult abuse – for orders where the abused is over 65 or a dependent adult. The forms ask questions about the person to be restrained and why you are asking to have them restrained. Consequences of the forms can require the person to be restrained to stay away from you, move out of your house, or have limited ability to see your children. You do not need a lawyer to fill out these forms, but having one will ensure that you have the best chance for the order to go through.

Step 1: Fill Out Forms

Fill out the appropriate form for the type of restraining order that best fits your case: domestic violence, civil harassment, or elderly/dependent adult abuse.

 • Civil Harassment Restraining Order
 • Domestic Violence Restraining Order
 • Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order

Step 2: File in Court

Take your forms to the courthouse in the county where you were abused, or the county where the person who abused you lives. File your forms with the court clerk. You will be given a court date at this time. Depending on the courthouse, your court hearing may be several weeks away. If you require a restraining order sooner, you can file for a Temporary Restraining Order. This temporary form will be reviewed within 24 hours and, if granted, protects you until your court date. Between your filing and the court date, the person to be restrained will be served papers informing them that a restraining order has been filed against them and that they must attend the court hearing if they wish to defend themselves.

 • Temporary Restraining Order

Step 3: Hearing

Attend your court hearing and receive the judge’s decision. If approved, your restraining order can last up to 3 years before requiring renewal.

Additional Resources

 • California Restraining Order FAQs