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How to apply for a domestic violence restraining order

It's never easy to hear stories about domestic violence happening in a home. The instinctive human reaction is to protect the individuals being abused. The problem is, if the victims of domestic violence are still trapped in the throes of a complicated love union, they may not be ready for help. Ultimately, every victim of domestic violence needs to wake up (on their own time) and realize that the full force of California law is on their side.

When a victim is ready to take action to stop the cycle of domestic abuse that's plaguing them, it may be necessary to seek emotional and physical protection by applying for a restraining order:

  • Get help from a lawyer or a domestic violence clinic to make sure you qualify for a domestic violence restraining order and to assist you with appropriately filling out the applicable forms. There may be other forms you need to fill out. For example, if you have children, you may want to file the appropriate forms to receive child support and set up child custody arrangements and a child visitation plan.
  • File your domestic violence restraining order forms with the court. You should receive the judge's decision about the restraining order within the next business day, more or less. If granted, keep a copy of the restraining order on your person at all times, keep a copy in a safe deposit box and keep copies in all the locations where the restrained person is prohibited from being and give a copy to security officers in these areas.
  • Hire a professional process server to serve the restraining order on the restrained individual. The restraining order cannot be enforced until after it has been served by a third-party process server (i.e., not by yourself).
  • Prepare for your court hearing: You'll need to present your case during an in-person court hearing to ensure your restraining order is enforceable. Make sure you're well-prepared for this hearing and that you know the legal issues inside and out.

Victims of domestic violence may want to get help from a qualified attorney. This can be a scary and emotional time for an abused person and having an experienced legal counselor on one's team will be enormously helpful and supportive.

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