A restraining order is a court order that can protect individuals from abuse or harassment from another person. There are several different types of restraining orders in California, including a domestic violence restraining order, a civil harassment order and a dependent adult restraining order. Domestic violence restraining orders should be used if you seek protection from a spouse or partner, while civil harassment orders are for neighbors or associates. Dependent adult restraining orders are used to protect against elder abuse. Filing a restraining order in California requires a number of forms and a court hearing.
Visit your local county court office. To locate your county court office, visit the California Court website listed below in Resources. The website provides business hours and locations for the court office in your county.
Ask for the necessary forms to file a restraining order. The court clerk will likely ask you about the nature of your relationship with the person you are seeking a restraining order against. For a domestic violence restraining order, the clerk will have you fill out California forms DV-100 and DV-110. A civil harassment order requires forms CH-100 and CH-120 and the dependent adult restraining order uses form EA-100. All of these forms are also available on the California Courts website, so you can fill them out ahead of time.
Fill out your forms completely and sign in the appropriate places. The court clerk will hand your forms to a judge who will rule on whether or not the restraining order should go into effect. The judge must make this determination within 1 business day after you file the forms.
Ask the clerk when you should return to court to learn the status of your restraining order. Usually, the clerk will give you a specific time to come back on the next business day.
Return to the court at your designated time, and if the judge has signed the order, you will receive five copies of a temporary restraining order from the court clerk. The temporary restraining order is valid for 3 weeks. Keep one copy with you at all times, and provide the other copies to any other individuals involved in the restraining order.
Hire someone to serve the person you are seeking protection from with one copy of the temporary restraining order. Anyone except you can serve the restraining order, but he must be older than 18. Do not mail the order. Many people hire a process server to serve the restraining order, but law enforcement officials in California will serve restraining orders for free.
Once the affected person has been served with the temporary restraining order, fill out a "Proof of Service" form, which is also available on the California Courts website. Make five copies of this form.
Check your temporary restraining order for the date and time of your hearing, where you will receive a permanent restraining order. Bring copies of all forms you have filled out regarding the restraining order--including five copies of the "Proof of Service" form completed in Step 7--and any medical or police reports that support your case. The judge may ask you to testify and may ask direct questions about your situation.
Wait for the judge's ruling, which typically happens at the very end of your hearing. If the judge decides to grant the restraining order, he will sign the order, and you will need to file it with the court clerk. As soon as the judge signs the order, the restraining order is in effect.