Domestic Violence Restraining or Protection Orders in California

Here’s everything you need to know about domestic violence restraining orders in California and a step-by-step guide on how to get one.

Domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are court orders that restrain individuals from taking certain actions that may harm protected persons. To get a DVRO, protected persons must complete, file, and serve their forms. Then, a court hearing will be held for a judge to issue or deny a permanent DVRO.

What is a domestic violence restraining order?

A domestic violence restraining order (DVRO), also called a protection order, is a court order issued to protect people from domestic violence. DVROs are issued to restrain persons from engaging in certain actions that may harm a protected person.

What can a domestic violence restraining order do?

In California, a DVRO can order a restrained person to:

  • Not contact you or designated relatives in any way
  • Avoid places that you go to
  • Keep a physical distance from you
  • Move out of the home you two reside in
  • Complete a weekly, yearlong batterer intervention program
  • Give up possession of firearms
  • Pay child support or alimony
  • Follow a child custody order
  • Follow other court orders

A DVRO on its own cannot:

  • End a marriage/domestic partnership
  • Establish parentage

Contrary to some beliefs, a DVRO is not a divorce. It will not end your marriage.

Legal Elements of a Permanent Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California

Under California statute, to qualify for a domestic violence restraining order you and the person you wish to restrain must be either:

  • Spouses or domestic partners
  • Divorced or separated
  • Dating or used to date
  • Cohabited or previously cohabited
  • Parents of a child together
  • Family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, in-laws, cousins, grandparents)
    AND this person has abused or threatened to abuse you.

How to Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in California

To get a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) in California, first, fill out your state and local court’s protection order forms. Once completed, take them to your local court clerk, who will hand these forms to a judge for approval. Find out if the judge issued a temporary restraining order, then file your forms. Distribute copies of the TRO, serve the “restrained” person, and file your proof of service. Prepare for and attend the court hearing, then file any final paperwork if the DVRO is granted.

1. Fill Out the Domestic Violence Restraining Order Forms

Fill out these DVRO forms:

If you need more space to describe why you need the restraining order, fill out:

If you’re requesting to have your children protected under the DVRO order as well, check the appropriate boxes on Item 12 of the Temporary Restraining Order and fill out:

  • Request for Child Custody and Visitation Orders (Form DV-105) [attach to Form DV-100]
  • Child Custody and Visitation Order (Form DV-140) [attach to Form DV-110]
  • Request for Order: No Travel With Children (Form DV-108) [if needed]

If you’re requesting child support and/or alimony with the DVRO, fill out and attach these forms to the Form DV-100:

2. Complete Any Other Forms

Depending on the county you’ll be filing in, you may need to complete other forms as well. Call the local court you’ll be filing the DVRO at and ask if there are any additional papers you need to fill out. If so, complete them.

3. Have An Attorney Review Them

After you’ve gathered and filled out all of the necessary state and local forms, have an attorney review them. It’s crucial that every form is completed and filed correctly; an experienced lawyer can help you make sure the restraining order process is done correctly. After the forms have been reviewed and finalized by an attorney, make at least 5 copies of each form.

4. Take Forms to the Court Clerk

Take the original and copied sets to the court clerk. The clerk will give these forms to a judge, who may grant a temporary restraining order within one business day. The judge may review and approve the documents, or you may need to either attend a court hearing that day. Ask the court clerk how you should proceed and when you should return.

5. Find Out If the Judge Issues a Temporary Restraining Order

At the time and date, the court clerk tells you to return, find out whether the judge issued, modified, or denied the temporary restraining order. Even if the judge denied the TRO, a court hearing will be held to determine the permanent DVRO. Find out when your court hearing date is.

6. File Your Forms

If the TRO was granted, the court clerk will automatically file your forms. The court clerk will stamp all forms “Filed, keep the originals, and hand you back the copied forms. You will NOT be asked to pay a filing fee.

7. Distribute Copies of the Temporary Restraining Order

Now you’ll want to distribute copies of the TRO to:

  • Yourself (keep a copy of the TRO with you at all times)
  • A safe place to keep your records
  • Anyone else protected by the order
  • Any place the restrained person is not allowed to go to
  • Security guards as your workplace or apartment

8. Serve Your Forms to the Restrained Person

Find out when the service of process must be completed by. Then, get someone over the age of 18 to serve your filed forms, along with this blank form, to the “restrained” person by that date:

  • Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (Form DV-120)

If you have children with the restrained person, serve these blank forms as well:

A “filed copy of declaration” of your “domestic violence restraining order” case should be included in the California service of process. For more information about how to complete the service of process, click here.

9. File Your Proof of Service

After the service of process has been completed, have the process server complete a Proof of Personal Service (CLETS) (Form DV-200) or associated form (based on their status). File the proof of service before your court date. Keep a copy of the proof of service with you at all times, along with the TRO.

10. Prepare for the Court Hearing

To prepare for the DVRO court hearing, gather all evidence that supports your claims. Proof of abuse can include:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Voicemails
  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Witness testimony
California domestic violence restraining order burden of proof

If a domestic violence restraining order is requested, the burden of proof lies with the person filing the DVRO. Under the preponderance standard, the person seeking the protection order must prove more likely than not that such a court order is necessary to prevent future acts of domestic violence.

11. Attend the Court Hearing

It’s crucial that you attend this court hearing. Get to court 30 minutes early, find the right courtroom, and wait until your case is called to the stand. In your court hearing, speak calmly and respectfully. Speak honestly. If the “restrained” person lies in court, wait for them to finish speaking. Then, explain their false claims. Speak only when spoken to.

The judge will either:

  • Grant all of the orders requested
  • Grant some of the orders requested\
  • Deny all of the orders requested
  • Postpone your case

12. After the Court Hearing

If the judge granted the restraining order you’ll need to complete, file, and serve this form to the “restrained” person:

  • Restraining Order After Hearing (Order of Protection) (CLETS) (Form DV-130)

Then, have the process serve complete either of these forms, then file it:

Types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

No-Contact Order

A no-contact order restrains a person from making any form of contact wi. This type of order may also order the restrained person to keep a physical distance (usually 100 yards) from the protected person or their residence, workplace, etc.

Vacate Order

A vacate order essentially tells a restrained person to stay-out or move-out of the protected person’s residence.

Ex Parte Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order

A temporary restraining order, a type of “ex parte” or emergency court order, may be issued the day a person files their DVRO. This ex parte motion is granted to ensure a person is temporarily protected until their court date can be held for a permanent DVRO. For more information about how to get a TRO in California, click here.


Is discovery permitted in California domestic violence restraining order cases?

Yes, discovery is permitted. There is no law or statute preventing discovery or depositions in California domestic violence restraining order cases.

What is a stipulated restraining order for domestic violence in California?

A stipulated restraining order for domestic violence in California is a court order that a “restrained” person agrees to.

How does social media affect a domestic violence restraining order in California?

Social media posts can be used as evidence in California domestic violence restraining order cases. Also, a “restrained” person may be ordered not to contact a “protected person” or their affiliates through social media.

Free Consultation With a Domestic Violence Attorney in California

If you need a domestic violence restraining order in California, contact us. We’ll get you in touch with the most qualified lawyer for your unique legal issue. Get connected to an attorney with one of our domestic violence attorneys in California today!