How to Get a California Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)

Are you currently in an abusive relationship? Do you need immediate assistance obtaining an emergency order, a temporary restraining order, or a long-term domestic violence restraining order?  

Taking the steps to free yourself from a dangerous relationship can be scary, but there are many professionals who are ready and willing to help you move forward towards a better future.

What is Domestic Violence?

California law defines domestic violence as abuse, which can include physical and emotional harm, and reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury between domestic partners or people who share a living space (Cal. Family Code §6211).  

Domestic violence is not limited to married, heterosexual couples. If you share a living space with an intimate partner, and they have made threats of violence toward you, or are physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally abusing you, you deserve to feel safe – and you deserve justice.

Domestic Violence and Children

Domestic violence also includes abuse between parents and children, step-children and blended families. In addition, if the respondent (abuser) and you share children together, you can obtain a restraining order on behalf of your child against the respondent to keep your child safe as well (Cal. Family Code § 6203). 

What to Do if You Are Experiencing Domestic Abuse

If you are in an abusive relationship, keeping yourself (and your children) safe from your abuser is the first priority. Here are some helpful steps to take when you’re ready to seek help:

  • Consider contacting any of the Domestic Violence prevention agencies serving Placer County and Sacramento County on our Domestic Violence Prevention page to develop a safety plan
  • If you are viewing this article on a shared electronic device, we strongly encourage that you learn how to clear your browser history for your own safety.
  • Prepare to file a California restraining order to protect yourself from future harm.

How to Get a Restraining Order in California

In the state of California, restraining orders are specifically intended to prevent one party from harming another (whether physically, emotionally, or in another manner). There are a few different types of restraining orders, each one serving a unique purpose and applying to a certain phase of legal proceedings.

Emergency Restraining Orders

If you need immediate help on a weekend or overnight, do not wait until the next business day to protect yourself. Report the abuse to police or the sheriff and request an emergency restraining order as soon as possible.

An emergency order is sought by law enforcement and submitted directly to the court officer when the officer is at the scene of a crime or a domestic violence call (Cal. Family Code § 6250). The emergency restraining order is valid for only five to seven days, during which the victim should apply for a temporary restraining order, or TRO.  

Once the emergency order is in place, you can be confident that you are safe while you contact a domestic violence prevention attorney to prepare a California temporary restraining order application.

Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO)

A TRO is granted by a judge and is considered valid until a final hearing for a permanent restraining order is held.

The TRO comes with various protections, and the petitioner is only required to prove that:

  • They are in danger or have suffered abuse, AND
  • The abuser is either a spouse, family member, parent, or intimate partner that shares a living space.

A TRO can require the abuser/respondent to:

  • Remain away from the family home,
  • Surrender firearms,
  • Pay temporary child support or emergency family maintenance funds [The judge can grant additional relief or extend relief when the victim files a domestic violence restraining order.],
  • Stay away from shared children,
  • Stay away from the victim’s school, place of work or the child’s school, and
  • Attend counseling.

Below, you can find direct links to the forms and instructions for a:

These forms can be very difficult to draft, file, and serve alone – particularly if you are the victim of domestic violence.  Our expert attorneys in Sacramento can help with any aspect of this process, starting at the initial application and moving through full representation at trial if necessary.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DRVO)

If you want to pursue the process of a long-standing restraining order, you can get a California domestic violence restraining order (DVRO).

A hearing is scheduled before a family law judge after the Respondent has received notice. The Petitioner (you) must prove that you served the Respondent (your abuser) notice of the DVRO hearing date, or that you have diligently attempted to serve the Respondent (Cal. Family Code §6340(a)(2)(A)). You must establish past acts of abuse, physical or emotional, to the satisfaction and discretion of the judge for the DVRO to be issued.  This can be accomplished through your truthful testimony or any other admissible evidence that the court may consider.

The Respondent (alleged abuser) can choose to attend the trial and prepare a defense, but his/her attendance is not required. A judge can still order a DVRO effective even when the abuser fails to show up.  When the Respondent fails to attend, notice of the DVRO must be served upon the Respondent for court orders to be effective.

Criminal Protective Orders

If the Defendant was charged with battery, assault, aggravated assault, or another violent crime in a domestic context, the judge may make a criminal protective order against the Defendant/Respondent in the interest of protecting the victim and preventing additional violent crimes of a domestic nature.

How is Child Custody Decided When a Restraining Order is in Place?

Any finding of domestic violence or issuance of a TRO or DVRO does impact a child custody or divorce case (Cal. Family Code §3044).  

When making custody determinations, a judge will consider the criminal history and domestic violence history for both parties.  But, even if evidence of abuse is present, the Respondent/Defendant can still apply for visitation and the Court will determine if visitation with the child is in the child’s best interest.

This makes it extremely important to seek the advice of experienced family law counsel regarding child custody and domestic violence. If you share children with your abuser, act immediately to protect your family’s safety and preserve your custody rights. The attorneys of Hughes Law Group have extensive experience in family law including domestic violence prevention.  

Let Our Domestic Violence Lawyers File a Restraining Order in Sacramento on Your Behalf

The attorneys at Hughes Law Group can provide immediate help with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in Sacramento to ensure you are protected from harm at the hands of a domestic abuser.

Our domestic violence attorneys serve the entire Sacramento County and Placer County region.  They understand how sensitive and emotional these issues can be. We are ready to help you develop a safety plan and file a restraining order against your abuser.  

Contact us or schedule a confidential and free consultation through our website to review your options now.

Obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order