Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in California: Protecting Victims and Seeking Legal Recourse

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects countless families and individuals across California. To provide protection and recourse for victims, the state offers Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs). These legal orders are essential tools to safeguard victims from further harm and establish necessary boundaries between the abuser and the victim. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of DVROs in California, including what they are, who can obtain them, how to apply, and the different types of orders available.

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

A Domestic Violence Restraining Order is a legal order issued by the court to protect individuals who have experienced abuse or threats of abuse from a current or former spouse, partner, cohabitant, or close family member. The primary purpose of a DVRO is to prevent contact and ensure the safety and well-being of the victim and any children involved.

Who Can Obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

In California, any person who has experienced domestic violence, or believes they are in imminent danger of abuse, can seek a DVRO. The law does not discriminate based on age, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. This means that victims in dating relationships, same-sex relationships, and married couples alike have the right to seek protection through a restraining order.

Types of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

1. Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

An EPO can be issued by law enforcement officers at any time of the day or night when there is a credible threat of immediate harm. It is commonly issued in cases of domestic violence-related arrests. An EPO is temporary, usually lasting only a few days or until the victim can file for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).

2. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

A TRO is granted by the court and can last up to 25 days. It is intended to provide temporary protection until a court hearing is held to determine whether a permanent restraining order is necessary.

3. Permanent Restraining Order

If, after a court hearing, the judge finds sufficient evidence of abuse, they may grant a permanent restraining order. This order can last for several years or, in some cases, indefinitely. The terms of the permanent restraining order may vary depending on the specifics of the case.

How to Apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

  1. Gather evidence: Before applying for a DVRO, it is essential to collect evidence of the abuse or threats. This can include photographs of injuries, text messages, emails, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation.
  2. Visit the courthouse: Go to your local courthouse and request the necessary forms to apply for a DVRO. The court clerk or domestic violence advocate can help you with the paperwork and provide guidance throughout the process.
  3. Fill out the forms: Complete the required forms accurately and honestly. Be sure to include all relevant information about the abuser and the incidents of abuse or threats.
  4. Attend the court hearing: After submitting the forms, a judge will review your case and may schedule a court hearing. It is crucial to attend the hearing and present your evidence to support your request for a restraining order.

Protective Provisions of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A DVRO can include a variety of provisions tailored to the specific situation and needs of the victim. These provisions may include:

  1. 1. Stay-Away Order: The abuser must stay a certain distance away from the victim, their home, workplace, and any other specified locations.
  2. 2. No-Contact Order: The abuser is prohibited from contacting the victim directly or indirectly, including by phone, email, or through a third party.
  3. 3. Child Custody and Visitation Orders: The court may address custody and visitation arrangements to ensure the safety and well-being of any children involved.
  4. Move-Out Order: In cases where the victim and abuser live together, the court may order the abuser to move out of the shared residence.
  5. Surrender of Firearms: If the abuser possesses firearms or other dangerous weapons, the court may order their surrender to the authorities.

Enforcing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Once a DVRO is issued, it is essential to notify law enforcement agencies, schools, workplaces, and any other relevant entities about the order. If the abuser violates the terms of the order, the victim should immediately report the violation to the police. Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense in California and can result in serious consequences for the abuser.


Domestic Violence Restraining Orders play a crucial role in protecting victims of abuse and providing them with a legal recourse to seek safety and peace of mind. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it is essential to take immediate action by seeking help from local law enforcement, domestic violence shelters, or legal services. A DVRO can be a powerful tool to break free from the cycle of abuse and begin the journey towards healing and recovery. Remember, you are not alone, there are top family law firms available to help you through this difficult time.