What is a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order?
A DV-TRO is a court order designed to protect you from abuse or threats of abuse from someone with whom you have a close relationship. For example, a DV-TRO can protect you from your spouse or registered domestic partner, your ex-spouse or ex-domestic partner, your current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, the other parent of your child, and a close relative (e.g. parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-law).
What is “Domestic Violence”?
According to California law, domestic violence is defined as abuse or threats of abuse. The abuse or threats may be against you or someone you know, including your pet. Domestic violence includes physical harm and threats of physical harm, as well as verbal, emotional and psychological abuse.
What is “Abuse”?
In California, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (codified as California Family Code section 6200 et seq.) defines “abuse” to include multiple behaviors, including:
* Intentionally or recklessly causing or trying to cause bodily injury
* Sexual assault
* Causing someone to have a reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury or imminent serious bodily injury to another
* Molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing or otherwise disturbing the peace of another
* Disturbing someone’s peace or destroying someone’s personal property
Physical “abuse” is defined broadly to include hitting, kicking, pushing, throwing things and hair pulling. It can also include following or scaring someone, and preventing someone from freely coming and going from home, work, school, etc. Physical abuse can also include abuse of the victim’s pet or family pet.
What can a DV-TRO do?
DV-TROs are effective for 20-25 days until the court’s hearing date. A DV-TRO can compel or prohibit the restrained person from doing many things, including:
* Contacting you or going near you, your children, relatives and/or persons living with you
* Staying away from your home, work and/or school
* Staying away from your child’s school and/or daycare facility
* Staying away from your or your family’s pet(s)
* Moving out of your home (even if you live with the abuser)
* Handing over firearms to authorities
* Following child custody, visitation and support orders
* Paying spousal support
* Transferring the rights to a cell phone number and account
* Paying bills, including the mortgage or rent for real property
* Releasing or returning personal or real property
* Not making changes to insurance policies
* Not incurring large expenses (if you are married or domestic partners)
* Not gifting, selling and/or encumbering property owned by you or the restrained person (if you are married or domestic partners).
* Completing a 52-week batterer intervention program
Additionally, pursuant to California Penal Code section 633.6(a), the court may include a provision allowing the victim to record all prohibited communications made to the victim from the restrained party. Without the court’s permission, secret recordings of phone calls and other conversations violate California law.
How can I obtain a DV-TRO?
You or your attorney must file forms in court requesting a DV-TRO. By the next business day, the judge will decide whether to grant your request. If the judge does grant your request, he or she will make temporary orders that last until your hearing date in court. In general, you will need to have your DV-TRO paperwork served on the other party, and he or she will have the chance to file responsive paperwork with the court.
On your court date, if you do not show up, the judge will likely dismiss your request. If the other party does not attend the court hearing, the court will not consider his or her perspective and it is likely your request for temporary restraining order will be granted.
According to California Family Code section 6251, to issue a DV-TRO, the judge must find two things: (1) there are reasonable grounds to believe there is an immediate danger of domestic violence and (2) an emergency protective order is needed to prevent the domestic violence abuse.
Additional Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
Please note that California law offers a number of significant protections for victims of domestic violence, including:
* Domestic violence victims may breach their lease if they provide their landlord with a notice of termination of tenancy with a copy of their DV-TRO or police report generated within 180 days of the notice. (Cal. Code Civil Proc., § 1946.7.)
* Domestic violence victims may require a landlord to change the locks to prevent the restrained person from entering the home. (Cal. Code Civil Proc., § 1941.5.)
* Employers must make reasonable accommodations for victims that request accommodations to increase their personal safety while at work, including a transfer to a different location, a change of schedule or workstation, and installation of locks. (Cal. Labor Code, § 230.)
For more information on obtaining or defending against a DV-TRO, contact the family law attorneys at Broaden Law LLP.