How to Obtain a Restraining Order in California? A Step-By-Step Legal Guide

A restraining order is a legal document issued by a court to protect individuals from abuse, threats, harassment, or stalking.

In California, there are several types of restraining orders, each designed for specific situations.

How to Obtain a Restraining Order in California?
How to Obtain a Restraining Order in California?

This article will guide you through the process of obtaining a restraining order in California and answer frequently asked questions.

ALSO READ: What Is the Difference Between Protective Orders and Restraining Orders?

Understanding Restraining Orders

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order, also known as a protective order, is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed.

The person who requests the order is called the “protected person,” and the individual the order is against is the “restrained person.”

Types of Restraining Orders

There are four main types of restraining orders in California:

Types of Restraining Orders

How to Get a Restraining Order

To obtain a restraining order in California, you can follow these steps:

How to Obtain a Restraining Order in California

1.Determine the Type of Restraining Order

Decide which type of restraining order applies to your situation—domestic violence, civil harassment, elder or dependent adult abuse, or workplace violence.

2.Complete the Forms

Fill out the necessary forms, which are available at the courthouse or online on the California Courts website. Provide detailed information about the incidents and why you need protection.

3.File the Forms

Submit the completed forms to the court clerk. There may be no fee for filing a restraining order.

4.Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

If you need immediate protection, ask the court for a TRO, which can be granted on the same day without the presence of the restrained person.

5.Serve the Restrained Person

Legally notify the restrained person about the restraining order by having someone else serve them the papers.

6.Court Hearing

Attend the court hearing on the date provided. Be prepared to present evidence and witness testimony to support your case.

7.Judge’s Decision

The judge will decide whether to issue a permanent restraining order, which can last up to five years.

Remember, each step is crucial for the legal process, and it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. If you need assistance, consider seeking help from a legal professional or a local domestic violence agency.

How long does a restraining order last?

The duration of a restraining order in California can vary depending on the type of order and the specifics of the case.

Generally, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is issued first and typically lasts until the court hearing date, which is usually within 20 to 25 days.

If the court finds it necessary to provide longer-term protection, it may issue a Permanent Restraining Order, which can last up to five years.

After that period, the protected person can request a renewal if they still feel threatened.

It’s important to note that the exact duration will be determined by the judge based on the circumstances presented during the court proceedings.

What happens if the restrained person violates the order?

If the restrained person violates a restraining order in California, it is considered a serious legal offense. The consequences can include:

1.Arrest and Criminal Charges

Law enforcement can arrest the restrained person if they believe a violation has occurred. The restrained person may face criminal charges, which can lead to a criminal record.

2.Jail Time

Depending on the severity of the violation and whether it’s a first-time or repeat offense, the restrained person could be sentenced to jail.


The court may impose fines as a penalty for violating the order.

4.Changes to the Order

The court may modify the restraining order to offer further protection to the person who requested the order.

It’s important for both parties to understand that a restraining order is a legally binding document, and any breach of its terms is taken very seriously by the courts.

If you’re involved in a situation with a restraining order, it’s crucial to adhere to all the conditions specified in the order.

What if I need to update or modify the terms of the order?

If you need to update or modify the terms of a restraining order in California, you can file a request with the court that issued the original order.

Here’s a general outline of the steps involved:

1.File a Request

Obtain and fill out the appropriate forms to request a modification of the restraining order. These forms are usually available at the courthouse or on the California Courts website.

2.State the Reasons

Clearly explain the reasons for the requested changes. Provide as much detail and evidence as possible to support your request.

3.Submit the Forms

File the completed forms with the court clerk. You may need to pay a filing fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver.

4.Serve the Papers

Legally notify the restrained person of the proposed changes by serving them with the papers.

5.Attend a Hearing

The court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present their arguments regarding the proposed modifications.

6.Judge’s Decision

The judge will consider the evidence and arguments presented and decide whether to approve the modifications.

It’s important to note that until the judge approves the changes, the original terms of the restraining order remain in effect. Both parties must continue to follow the existing order until any modifications are legally made.

If you’re unsure about the process or need assistance, it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional.

Can I obtain a restraining order without a lawyer?
Yes, you can request a restraining order without legal representation. However, consulting a lawyer can be beneficial.


Does a restraining order affect the restrained person’s immigration status?

A restraining order can have implications for the restrained person’s immigration status in California.

While the initial filing for a protective order is not by itself a deportable offense, the outcome of the case and any subsequent actions can have significant consequences:

1.Deportation Risk

If the restraining order is granted due to violence against a spouse or partner, the restrained person could be at risk for deportation.

2.Violation Consequence

Violating a restraining order, even if it does not relate to allegations of actual violence, can lead to deportation proceedings.

3.Impact on Immigration Applications

Having a restraining order against you may affect applications for a green card or visa, as these often require demonstrations of good moral character.


Obtaining a restraining order in California is a critical step towards ensuring your safety and well-being.

Moreover, It’s important to understand the types of restraining orders available and the process involved in acquiring one.

If you’re in a situation where you feel threatened, don’t hesitate to seek protection through the legal system.


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