Restraining Orders

A restraining order (also called a “protective order”) is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed.  The person getting the restraining order is called the “protected person.”  The person the restraining order is against is the “restrained person.”  Sometimes, restraining orders include other “protected persons” like family or household members of the protected person.

If you or your children are in danger, you should contact the police or a domestic abuse shelter immediately.  My firm will assist our clients in filing and obtaining a restraining order if necessary.  If a restraining order has been filed against you, we can provide you with advice on how to proceed.  If related to your divorce or family law matter, we can handle all issues related to restraining orders and orders for protection, including:

  • Domestic abuse

  • Child abuse

  • Harassment

  • Custody issues (i.e., child placement)

  • Safety issues

  • Issues with drug and alcohol addiction


Domestic violence is very real, and law enforcement takes allegations or domestic and child abuse seriously.  However, this issue also can be used as a weapon in contested divorces.  We have seen many instances in which false charges of domestic violence were made in order to give the accuser the upper hand in a custody dispute or other family law matter.  If this applies to your situation we have experience that will help you navigate this potential minefield.

What does a restraining order do?


In general restraining orders can include:

1.  Personal conduct orders
These are orders to stop specific acts against everyone named in the restraining order as a “protected person.” Some of the things that the restrained person can be ordered to stop are:


  • Contacting, calling, or sending any messages (including e-mail);

  • Attacking, striking, or battering;

  • Stalking;

  • Threatening;

  • Sexually assaulting;

  • Harassing;

  • Destroying personal property; or

  • Disturbing the peace of the protected people.

2.  Stay-away orders

These are orders to keep the restrained person a certain distance away (like 50 or 100 yards) from:


  • The protected person or persons;

  • Where the protected person lives;

  • His or her place of work;

  • His or her children’s schools or places of child care;

  • His or her vehicle;

  • Other important places where he or she goes.

3.  Residence exclusion (“kick-out” or “move-out”) orders
These are orders telling the restrained person to move out from where the protected person lives and to take only clothing and personal belongings until the court hearing. These orders can only be asked for in domestic violence or elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order cases.


For the person to be restrained, having a restraining order against him or her can have very serious consequences:

  • He or she will not be able to go to certain places or to do certain things.

  • He or she might have to move out of his or her home.

  • It may affect his or her ability to see his or her children.

  • He or she will generally not be able to own a gun. (And he or she will have to turn in, sell or store any guns they have now and not be able to buy a gun while the restraining order is in effect.)

  • It may affect his or her immigration status if he or she is trying to get a green card or a visa.

If the restrained person violates (breaks) the restraining order, he or she may go to jail, or pay a fine, or both.


A restraining order will make it illegal for the abuser (the respondent) to come within a certain distance of the abused (the petitioner).  The respondent can be ordered to remain a certain distance from the petitioner's home and place of employment, even if they live and work in the same place.  A restraining order can also significantly affect custody and placement orders.


Once a request for a temporary restraining order is filed, the family court determines whether there is probable cause for a restraining order to be granted.  If that determination is made, the court issues a temporary restraining order.  During this time, the respondent cannot have any contact with the petitioner.  In about 3 weeks after the temporary restraining order is issued, both parties must appear at a hearing to decide whether it will stay in force.  If the judge keeps the order in force, it can last for up to five years.  Otherwise, the restraining order petition can be dismissed on the day of the hearing.  Both parties may hire attorneys to represent them at this hearing.

Both parties have rights and both parties' homes and families are at stake.  The Law Office of James M. Williams, can represent you.  For a free initial consultation, contact us at (925) 272-8171.

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