Domestic Violence


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In California, the court can try to help to prevent repeated acts of violence and sexual abuse by issuing Restraining Orders.

These provide a separation of the people involved that is long enough for these people to try to deal with the causes of the violence. The person who asks for a Restraining Order can list other people he or she would like protected from the person to be restrained.

If you are listed as "Other Protected Person" on the Restraining Order, the Orders made by the court apply to you just as they apply to the primary protected person, unless special Orders are specifically made regarding you.

  • You can ask a police officer, sheriff's deputy, or other law enforcement officer to make the restrained person do what the Order says.
  • You should be ready to not see or talk to the restrained person as long as the Restraining Order is in effect.

In California, there are laws that define what is "abuse." These include bodily injury, sexual assault, or fear of injury or assault. (California Family Code, Section 6203)

"Domestic Violence" is abuse against:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • A domestic partner or former domestic partner
  • People who are dating or used to date
  • The mother or father of a child
  • People related to each other by blood, marriage, or adoption (such as a mother, father, child, brother, sister, grandparent, or in-law);
  • A person who regularly lives or used to live in the home.
    (California Family Code, Section 6211)

If the Restrained Person is one of your Parents:

If the restrained person is one of your parents, the judge will probably make specific Orders about when, where and how you can visit with that parent.

If you are listed as "Other Protected Person" on a Restraining Order that restrains one of your parents and you want to be removed from the Restraining Order, or you want the Custody and Visitation Orders to be changed, you may want to contact an attorney.

There is also an organization called Legal Services for Children that might be able to help.

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There are special legal rules that apply to people under 18 who want to appear in court or file papers with the court on their own behalf.

  • The court requires that a person, not necessarily a lawyer, be appointed to represent and protect the interests of the person younger than 18 before they can participate in any court proceedings. This is called having a "guardian ad item."
  • You can contact an attorney or a children's legal services provider on your own, or the court may appoint someone to represent you.

Learn what to do if the situation changes.

Often, people involved in Domestic Violence cases need more than just legal help.

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If you agree to being listed on the DV Restraining Order, you can decide if you want to go to the court hearing. The judge can issue a Restraining Order that includes you, as long as you are a family member (a child, spouse, co-inhabitant, etc.) or live with and have a permanent residence with the person seeking protection.

However, if you are 18 years old or older you can participate in the court hearing, if you want to, as a witness on behalf of the person seeking protection.

  • Ask the person seeking protection to call you as a witness so that you can speak to the judge.
  • The judge may agree to hear you, or may decide that he or she does not need to hear from you.
  • Even if the judge did not hear you tell your story, you may still be listed as a protected party.

Learn what will probably happen in court.

Learn what to do if the restrained person does not follow the court orders.

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If you have decided that you do not want to be listed as an "Other Protected Person" on the Restraining Order - that is, you don't want to be protected by this Restraining Order -- you can go to the court hearing and tell the judge what you want and give your reasons.

This step is important so that the restrained person is not charged with violating a court order when he or she has contact with you.

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When papers are filed in a court requesting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, the court hearing will usually be held about 21 days later.

The following timeline is offered simply to convey the information that this process has a beginning, a middle and an end. If exact details are required -- about how the days are counted, for example - it might be good to consult a lawyer.

One possible way a case might proceed...

Below is a description of the stages of a DV Restraining Order case.

A. The person seeking protection starts the paperwork:

  • Ask for an Emergency Protective Order, if needed.
  • Get forms needed for a Permanent Restraining Order
  • Fill out the forms - have them checked by a court clerk.
  • File the paperwork at the court (the original plus a copy.) Receive case number and hearing date from the court clerk.

B. The person seeking protection has to make sure everyone involved receives copies of the Restraining Orders petition papers and notice of the date and place of the hearing.

  • Notice of the hearing's date and place to be served as stated on the Restraining Order.
  • Also remember that it is necessary to prove that all of the paperwork was received. ("Proof of Service")
  • If you are not sure what to do, you may want to consult a lawyer.

C. Both the person seeking protection and the person to be restrained need to gather together the "evidence" that will be needed in court - photographs of injuries, or police records, for example.

D. The person to be restrained may file an "answer" at the court at least 5 (five) days before the hearing.

E. It is possible that people - family, friends or neighbors - may be asked to come to the court hearing to answer questions the judge might have.

F. The person seeking protection MUST attend the court hearing. If he or she does not show up, the case will usually be dismissed.

G. Immediately after the hearing, the person who received protection has to file the Restraining Orders After Hearing (CLETS) (Form DV-130) with the clerk's office.

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Asking the Court to help protect you will cost some money. Exact amounts will differ from case to case, from person to person, from court to court, and from year to year.

The following list of possible costs is offered simply to convey the information that this process has costs associated with it. If specific information is required, it might be good to consult a lawyer.

General costs

  • Time off work
  • Transportation to and from the courthouse
  • Telephone charges
  • Mailing costs

Getting help before the proceedings

  • Hiring a lawyer (also called an attorney), or
  • Employing the services of a legal clinic, and/or
  • Buying self-help books

Getting started with the proceedings



Investigation and preparation stage of the proceedings

  • Getting copies of documents certified to present to the court costs money. Such documents might include:
    • Photographs of injuries;
    • Police reports;
    • Emergency Protective Orders previously issued;
    • Divorce papers - if relevant;
    • Medical or death records - if relevant;
    • School records - if relevant.

Trial or hearing stage of the proceedings

  • It is possible that there will be court reporter costs.
  • If the trial has to be postponed or continued, there might be court fees.

After the trial

  • If the protected person moves to another county in California, or another state in the United States, there may be transfer fees to be paid.