How to File a Temporary Restraining Order for Free in L.A. County

By Teo Spengler - Updated April 11, 2017

Whether you represent yourself or use free legal assistance at court, a Domestic Violence Restraining Order is always free in L.A. County. You can file other types of temporary restraining orders for free if you qualify for a fee waiver.

L.A. County Restraining Orders

A restraining order is an order issued by the court telling someone to stop harassing or abusing you. It can order the person not to go near you or others in your household, and to stay away from your work place or school. There are a number of different kinds of restraining orders.

A domestic violence restraining order is intended to prevent abuse by a batterer, including threats of harm, bodily injury, sexual assault, molesting, stalking, destroying personal property and disturbing the other person's peace. To apply for a domestic violence restraining order, the person restrained must be related to you, such as a current or former spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend, someone you are dating or someone in your immediate family.

If the person isn't in one of these relationships with you, ask for a civil harassment restraining order. This order helps prevent violence, like assault or battery and stalking. The person can be a neighbor, a roommate (you aren't dating), a stranger, or a more distant family member like a cousin.

Older persons in Los Angeles County can seek an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. And employers can seek a workplace violence restraining order to protect an employee from violence, stalking, or harassment by another person.

Free Temporary Restraining Orders in Los Angeles

All domestic violence restraining orders in L.A. County are free. Los Angeles County is large and includes 37 different superior courts. Many of these provide free legal assistance for those seeking domestic violence TROs, and all permit the victim to represent herself before the judge.

Los Angeles legal aid agencies may also assist victims who ask for civil harassment restraining orders if the abuse was sexual assault or stalking. They may help in other situations, so it's the first place to try. They also frequently assist with filing for elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order.

Fee Waivers

If you are filing your TRO application and find it is not free in Los Angeles County, you may be able to file for free by seeking a fee waiver. Los Angeles County courts grant fee waivers to low-income people who cannot afford to pay court fees.

You qualify for a fee waiver if you receive any public benefits like:

  • MediCal
  • CalFresh (food stamps)
  • Cal-Works
  • SSI
  • SSP
  • General Assistance
  • Tribal
  • TANF
  • IHHS
  • CAPI

You also qualify if your household income is less than the amounts listed on the form FW-001 (see Resources) for different household sizes. Finally, you may qualify if the court determines that you cannot afford the court fees in addition to meeting your family's basic needs.

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.

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