How Hard Is It to Get a Restraining Order in California?

Filing a restraining order is a necessary safety precaution and protection for many people. You deserve to feel safe where you live and work. Understanding how California restraining orders work may help you feel more confident filing one.

What Is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is a court order you can file to protect yourself from another party. Protection may be for harassment, abuse, violence, threats of violence, or stalking. Restraining orders can protect you from this behavior and further limit your contact with the other party through terms such as:

  • Stay-away orders. This orders the offending party to stay a certain distance from you, your home, work, or another place.
  • Residence exclusion orders. The person must move out of where you live if you share a living space.
  • Personal conduct orders. This prevents destructive or threatening behaviors and prevents contact between parties.

Restraining orders can list multiple people as protected persons, meaning that you can also protect loved ones and family members with this restraining order.

Different Types of Restraining Orders

California has four types of restraining orders, which protect against different facets of violent or threatening behavior.

  • Domestic ViolenceA domestic violence restraining order applies to situations of domestic abuse. If you live with or have a close relationship with a person who has abused you, you should file for a domestic violence protective order. A close relationship includes family members, in-laws, people who live together, married couples, domestic partners, divorced or separated couples, couples who date or have dated, and those who have a child together.
  • Elder/Dependent Adult AbuseElder abuse or dependent adult abuse protective orders cover those over 65 and those between 18 and 65 with certain disabilities. If this person is being neglected, abused, or has suffered injury or deprivation from someone meant to be caring for them, you can file a restraining order.
  • Civil HarassmentCivil harassment restraining orders cover when you’re being stalked, harassed, abused, or threatened with violence by someone that you don’t have a close relationship with under the domestic violence protective order guidelines.
  • Workplace ViolenceWorkplace violence restraining orders can only be placed by employers to protect an employee at the workplace. An employee may need protection from credible threats, abuse, or immediate danger at work. Employees can’t file this type of protective order, but a civil harassment or domestic violence order can offer protection at your place of work. The order must just include the terms of a stay-away order to keep the offending party away.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Restraining Orders

  • Emergency Protective OrdersAn Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is an instant and effective option for domestic violence and civil harassment restraining orders. An EPO is filed in response to immediate danger of domestic violence or civil harassment stalking situations and filed by a police officer. With no filing fee and an immediate effect, an EPO can allow you the safety you need to begin filing for a Temporary Restraining Order. An EPO lasts for up to seven days.
  • Temporary Restraining OrderA Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is available for all forms of a restraining order. A TRO can provide you protection after an EPO expires but before a hearing provides a permanent restraining order. As there is often a waiting period of around three weeks, a TRO may be necessary if you believe you’re in danger. A TRO can order the offending party to leave you alone, leave your house if you live together, and provide other protections. These restraining orders last around 20 to 25 days.
  • Permanent Restraining OrderAlso called a Restraining Order After Hearing, this restraining order is given after a court hearing. This happens whether you filed for a TRO or not. The court hearing will determine the need for protection and may issue a permanent restraining order. This protective order can last up to five years, so it’s not actually permanent. If no termination date is given for the order, it lasts three years. When the restraining order expires, you can apply for a new restraining order.
  • Criminal Protective OrderAlso called a Stay-Away Order, the protective order may be filed by the district attorney following a single event or series of severe harassment or violence. It then becomes a criminal case.

The Process of Filing a Restraining Order

For a TRO or permanent restraining order, you can file at a California court. Temporary and emergency protections are granted on allegations in most cases, but a permanent restraining order will require more. The hearing will need proof such as violent or threatening communication, eyewitness testimony, photographic evidence of wounds or property damage, and police reports.


Q: What Qualifies for a Restraining Order in California?

A: There are many abusive and threatening behaviors that qualify for a restraining order. A restraining order can protect you against stalking, violence, threats of violence or attacks, contact of any kind, harassment, sexual assault, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace.

Q: How Fast Can You Get a Restraining Order in California?

A: At any time of day, a judge is able to issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) for a situation involving serious violence or threat of domestic violence or elder abuse restraining orders. For civil harassment restraining orders, EPOs are only created to prevent stalking. All EPOs last up to seven days. There are no EPOs for workplace violence cases. EPOs go into effect immediately and can order the offending person to leave your home or stay away for a week, which allows you the time to file a Temporary Restraining Order, which provides longer protection until a court hearing.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Get a Restraining Order in California?

A: An emergency protective order is free to file. Filing for a Temporary Restraining Order generally costs $395 in California unless there were violent acts or threats of violence, in which case there is no fee. If your case needs the filing fee, but you can’t afford it, it can be waived with a Request to Waive Court Fees and an Order on Court Fee Waiver.

Q: Is It Easy to Get a Restraining Order?

A: You can go to a California court and file a restraining order form, or an attorney can file the forms for you. The forms will have you explain why a restraining order is necessary and what protection is needed. These forms are filed with the clerk, and they will be reviewed by a judge. The judge determines if a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is necessary for your circumstances, and a hearing will determine if the TRO becomes permanent.

Let Paula D. Kleinman Help

The experienced attorneys at Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, can help you file TROs, and gather the evidence and documents necessary to make them permanent.

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