Domestic Violence Restraining Order
The clinic operates on a “first come, first served basis.” We do not take appointments, and it is important to arrive early to make sure you are helped! Once you are signed up on our sign-in sheet for the clinic, you will need to complete an application for our services.
- Plan to spend a half-day to full-day at the courthouse to complete the process of obtaining a restraining order.
- DV Restraining Order paperwork must be completed and filed with the business office by 3:30 p.m. in order for the judge to make a decision that day.
***Clinic is closed on court holidays. Check court holidays here.
- SOUTH COUNTY COURTHOUSE
- 500 Third Avenue, Chula Vista CA 91910, Room 155
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- You MUST SIGN IN before 3:30 p.m. for assistance.
Free parking at courthouse parking lots or in residential neighborhood.
- Assist with the court forms required to petition for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
- Provide information/options/education on the law, the court process and timelines. Victims receive safety plan education and information on shelters and resources.
We do NOT offer legal advice or represent you at your court hearing.
Have the full name, description and address (if possible) of the person you want restrained. If the person you want restrained does not already know your address, be prepared to provide an address you are comfortable with that person knowing. They will need to have an address at which you can be served (by mail) with any response that may be filed.
Make a written record of specific examples with the dates/times that the person has abused you and be prepared to provide this information at the clinic.
Bring photographs of any injuries, police reports, or other written evidence of the abuse.
Due to the sensitive nature of discussions in the clinic and the length of time this process takes, we cannot accommodate children in the clinic. If you are unable to have someone watch your child(ren) while you are at the clinic, there is a free Children’s Waiting Room located on the 1st floor of the courthouse.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order Petitioner Packet (if you are requesting restraining order)
Domestic Violence with Children Packet (to be completed in addition to Restraining Order Petitioner Packet)
Domestic Violence Restraining Order Respondent Packet (if you are responding to restraining order placed on you)
What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
A Domestic Violence Restraining Order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone with whom they have a close relationship.
You can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if:
- A person has abused (or threatened to abuse) you; AND
- You have a close relationship with that person. You are:
- Married or registered domestic partners,
- Divorced or separated,
- Dating or used to date,
- Living together or used to live together (more than roommates),
- Parents together of a child, OR
- Closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
You may also ask for a domestic violence restraining order on behalf of your minor child who is being abused. If your child is 12 or older, he or she can file the restraining order on his or her own.
Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
- Sexual assault.
- Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
- Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be illegal such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail, telephone, or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.
The act(s) of abuse/violence must be recent, usually within 30 days.
What can the Domestic Violence Restraining Order do?
A restraining order is a court order. It can order the restrained person to:
- Not contact or go near you, your children, or other family/household members;
- Stay away from your home, work, vehicle, or your children’s schools;
- Move out of your house (if you live together);
- Not have a gun;
- Follow child custody and visitation orders;
- Pay child support;
- Pay spousal or partner support (if you are married or domestic partners);
- Stay away from any of your pets;
- Pay certain bills;
- Not make any changes to insurance policies;
- Not incur large expenses or do anything significant to affect your or the other person's property if you are married or domestic partners; and
- Release or return certain property.
Once the court issues (grants) a restraining order, the order is entered into a statewide computer system (called CLETS). This means that law enforcement officers across California can see there is a restraining order in place. Your restraining order works anywhere in the United States.
If you move out of California, contact your new local police so they will know about your orders. If you move to California with a restraining order from another state, or if you have a restraining order issued by a tribal court (in California or elsewhere in the U.S.), your restraining order will be valid anywhere in California and the police will enforce it. If you want your restraining order to be entered into California’s statewide domestic violence computer system, you can register your order with the court. Fill out and take an Order to Register Out-of-State or Tribal Court Protective/Restraining Order (CLETS) (Form DV-600) to your local court. Take a certified copy of your order with you. Keep in mind that you are not required to register your out-of-state or tribal court restraining order. A valid order is enforceable even if you do not register it.
What a restraining order CANNOT do?
A restraining order cannot:
- End your marriage or domestic partnership. It is NOT a divorce.
- Establish parentage (paternity) of your children with the restrained person (if you are not married to, or in a domestic partnership with, him or her) UNLESS you and the restrained person agree to parentage of your child or children and agree to the court entering a judgment about parentage. Read and use Agreement and Judgment of Parentage (Form DV-180) to do this.
Read the section Divorce and Legal Separation for information on getting divorced or legally separated.
Read the section Parentage for information on parentage (paternity) when the parents of a child are not married and are not domestic partners.
Effect of a restraining order on the restrained person
For the person to be restrained, the consequences of having a court order against him or her can be very severe.
- He or she will not be able to go to certain places or do certain things.
- He or she might have to move out of his or her home.
- It may affect his or her ability to see his or her children.
- He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (He or she will have to turn in, sell or store any firearms he or she has, and will not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)
- The restraining order may affect his or her immigration status. If you are worried about this, talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if you will be affected.
If the person to be restrained violates the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, pay a fine, or both.
Types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
An EPO is a type of restraining order that only law enforcement can ask for by calling a judge. Typically, this can be done by the officer responding to the scene of a domestic violence incident. Judges are available to issue EPOs 24 hours a day. A police officer that answers a domestic violence call can ask a judge for an emergency protective order at any time of the day or night.
The emergency protective order starts right away and can last up to 7 days. The judge can order the abusive person to leave the home and stay away from the victim and any children for up to a week. That gives the victim of the abuse enough time to go to court to file for a temporary restraining order.
To get an order that lasts longer than an EPO, you must ask the court for a temporary restraining order (also called a “TRO”).
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
When you go to court to ask for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, you fill out paperwork where you tell the judge everything that has happened and why you need a restraining order. If the judge believes you need protection, he or she will give you a temporary restraining order.
Temporary restraining orders usually last between 20 and 25 days, until the court hearing date.
“Permanent” Restraining Order
When you go to court for the hearing that was scheduled for your TRO, the judge may issue a “permanent” restraining order. They are not really “permanent” but can last up to 5 years. Before the end of those 5 years (or whenever your order runs out), you can ask to renew the restraining order to last a longer period or permanently so you remain protected.
Criminal Protective Order (CPO)
Sometimes, when there is a domestic violence incident (or series of incidents), the district attorney will file criminal charges against the abuser. This starts a case in criminal court. It is common for the district attorney to ask the criminal court to issue a criminal protective order against the defendant (the person who is committing the violence and abuse) while the criminal case is going on. If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty (convicted of a crime of domestic violence), the CPO may last for up to 10 years after the case is over.
To learn more about criminal protective orders, read How does a Criminal Protective Order help me?
And if there is a criminal protective order against you, read A Criminal Protective Order was issued against me.
Tribal Court Protective Order
If you live in a tribal community or reservation, the tribe may have resources to assist you. If there is a tribal court, the court may be able to give you a protective order. Click here for more information on tribal courts.
Are there fees to file a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
There is no charge for a person seeking protection to file Domestic Violence Restraining Order papers at the court.
What is the Safe At Home Program?
A victim-survivor of domestic violence may apply for a Safe At Home program, which is run by the Secretary of State's office in California. More information on the Safe at Home program click here.
The Safe At Home program will give you a substitute mailing address to use on official documents, including:
- your court papers;
- your driver's license; and
- your voter registration papers
For more information about enrolling in this no-cost mail forwarding service, click here.
If you wish to enroll, contact one of the local enrolling agencies, click here.
Please take a few minutes to read the warning below and to take steps to increase your safety when using the internet.
If an abuser has access to your email account, they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password that an abuser will not be able to guess.
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse.
If an abuser knows how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), they may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the Internet. You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser's settings.
- Internet Explorer: Pull down Tools menu, select “Internet Options.” On General tab, under Temporary Internet Files, click on "Delete Files." Under History, click on "Clear History."
- FireFox: From the Edit or Tools menu, choose "Preferences" or "Options." Expand the "Advanced" options and choose "Cache" or "Privacy." Click the button called "Clear Cache."
- In newer versions of Mozilla Firefox, you can easily clear the cache, history and cookies: Hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys, and press Delete (or Del), then choose what you want to remove. Or from the Tools menu, select "Clear Private Data."
- For older versions of Mozilla Firefox, go to "Tools" -- "Options" and click on "Privacy" (picture of a key) in the sidebar of the window that pops up. Click the "Clear" button that is next to the word "Cache."
- Safari: From the Safari menu, choose "Empty Cache..." or hold down the Option and Command keys and press E.
- Opera: From the Tools menu, choose "Preferences." Expand the "Advanced" options and choose "History". Click the button called "Empty now."Alternatively, you can easily clear the cache, history and cookies: From the "Tools" menu, choose "Delete private data." Click "Details", make sure that "Delete entire cache" is selected, and then choose any other data you want to remove.
- AOL: Pull down Members menu, select “Preferences.” Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced. Click on “Purge Cache.”
- Netscape: Pull down Edit menu, select “Preferences.” Click on Navigator or choose "Clear History." Click on “Advanced” then select “Cache.” Click on "Clear Disk Cache." On older versions of Netscape: Pull down Options menu. Select “Network Options,” select “Cache.” Click on "Clear Disk Cache."
Many browsers are set up to remember form entries, which could be a problem if you use a search engine to find the site. For example, if someone searches for 'domestic violence' on a search engine, this entry is remembered by the browser. The next time somebody performs a search for a word beginning with the letter 'd' in that search engine, the word 'domestic violence' will pop up as a suggested entry.
In Internet Explorer, you can get around this by clicking on Tools and selecting Internet Options. Click on “Content,” select “Auto Complete” and finally, “Clear forms.”
This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet would be at a local library, a friend's house or at work.
Protecting Your Personal Information
If you are trying to keep your information private from an abuser/stalker, you may want to protect your online presence. Google search your name in quotes (ex. “Jane Doe”). Carefully go through the results and see what information shows up. Consider hiding or removing altogether any identifying information that may indicate where you are on a regular basis, i.e. current city, current school, current employer, etc. Do not write your phone number in e-mails or add it to your online and social media profiles.
Also, some websites collect information that are matters of public information and create personal profiles which can be accessed for a fee. A few well-known databases are Zabasearch.com, Pipl.com, Intelius.com and Spokeo.com. Here is an example of instructions and links for opting out of these sites.
You can also stay updated on any new information published online about you. Set up a Google alert of your name/ handle/company name/address to ping you any time anything is posted about you on the web. Make it specific to social sites using advanced tools.
People may be able to track you with location information used by some applications. Turn off location services when you are not using them. Do not update your location on applications such as Swarm or Foursquare or log in to Google Maps. These applications may post to your social media profiles, making your location known while you are still there.
San Diego Regional Domestic Violence Resource Guide
(800) 799-SAFE (7233)
(888) 385-4657 (888) DVLINKS
(619) 233-8500 (dial 0 for shelter information)
211 or (858) 300-1211
Dial 7-1-1 if you are hearing-impaired and ask to be connected to 2-1-1.
Outside of County: (800) 227-0997 (for services)