A restraining order requires proof of credible threats, harassment, abuse, assault, battery or physical endangerment. A victim of domestic abuse files an application for a domestic violence restraining order against a spouse, family member or ex-lover. A victim of civil harassment seeks a protective order against a stranger, roommate, friend or neighbor.
Courts issue temporary and permanent restraining orders daily. Law enforcement agencies apply for emergency protective orders 24 hours a day.
Go to the Nearest Court or Police Station
Go to the nearest superior court in your county during regular business hours. Ask the law enforcement officer at the main entrance for directions to the domestic violence clinic or family law division. Alternatively, go to the local police station after hours, on weekends and on holidays when the court is closed.
Fill Out a Police Report and Court Documents
Fill out a police report and the required court documents for a protective order. Provide information about your relationship with the other party. A victim of domestic violence files an application for a domestic violence restraining order against an abusive spouse, family member or ex-lover. A victim of civil harassment needs to file an application for a civil harassment protective order against a stranger, roommate, friend or neighbor.
Document the Abuse in Detail
Document the abuse in detail. Start with the first time the abuse occurred, the date, time, location, verbal harassment and physical injuries. List all the major events, the frequency and the last occurrence. State the imminent threats and fear for personal safety. The judge will not issue a protective order without credible threats of future harm.
File the Documents with the Court Clerk
File the documents with the court clerk. Submit an ex parte motion for an expedited hearing on the matter. A judge can generally hear an ex parte motion on the same day. Notify the other party of your plans to obtain a restraining order at least 24 hours in advance. Alternatively, explain to the judge the danger communication with the abuser presents.
Appear Before a Judge
Appear before the judge during the morning or afternoon session as scheduled. Take photographs, letters, witnesses and other supporting evidence. Express the seriousness of the situation and state your deepest fears. Wait for the court order to be issued. Request a certified copy to serve on the other party.
Notify the Other Party of the Court Order
Notify the other party of the court order through a process server, certified mail or adult who is not a party to the case. Many courts send a courtesy copy of the court order to each party involved in a case. The enforceability of the protective order requires proper notification to the abuser.
Obtain a restraining order for serious and escalating cases of abuse and harassment. Never use a restraining order to gain a legal advantage in a civil suit or domestic matter.
Keep a copy of the police report and statement of facts for future reference. Arrive at court early and inform the courtroom bailiff if you fear for your personal safety while at court with the abuser. Ask for assistance to your car if you fear confrontation after the hearing.
Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.