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Domestic Violence

Introduction - What is domestic violence?
Abuse Defined - What is "abuse"?
Who can apply - Getting restraining orders
Available Orders - Restraining Orders
Getting Started - Initial paperwork
After forms completed - Next steps
Service of process - How to get your paperwork served
How to respond - Receiving a restraining order
Going to court - What to do at your hearing
Assistance - Free Help Available

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act or DVPA and how can it protect me?

If you have been the victim of domestic violence or abuse, you can file Judicial Council forms with the court and obtain a variety of restraining orders for your protection and for the protection of your children. You can obtain these orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA). You can obtain temporary restraining orders immediately, sometimes on the same day you file the forms with the court. You can oftentimes obtain immediate temporary restraining orders, without any court hearing, just on the basis of the information you put in your court forms. About three weeks later, there will be a hearing, at which a judge will decide if restraining orders should be issued that will remain in effect for a period of years.

Am I going to have to pay the court a filing fee in order to apply for DV orders?

It does not cost money to apply for orders under the DVPA. There is no court filing fee.

Do I have to first file for divorce before I can get DV orders against my spouse?

No. You do not have to file for a divorce to apply for restraining orders. You do not even have to be married to the person against whom you want the restraining orders to apply.

Do I need to be a citizen to apply for DV orders?

You do not need to be a U.S. citizen in to apply for domestic violence restraining orders.

What do I have to show the court in order to get DV orders?

You can only get domestic violence restraining orders if there has been some form of abuse.

What is “abuse”?

  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or a empting to cause bodily injury.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or another.

Abuse includes behavior where one party does any of the following to another person: molests, attacks, strikes, threatens, batters, harasses, makes annoying telephone calls, destroys personal property, or disturbs the peace of the other party.

Who can apply for DV orders under the DVPA?

You must have at least one of the following relationships with the person against whom you are seeking the restraining orders:

  1. You are married to the person or you are registered domestic partners.
  2. You used to be married to the person or you used to be registered domestic partners.
  3. You live together.
  4. You used to live together.
  5. You are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
  6. You are dating or used to date.
  7. You are engaged or used to be engaged to be married.
  8. You are the parents together of a child or children under 18 years of age.

What kinds of DV orders can I get under the DVPA?

You can obtain various types of restraining orders. You can also obtain orders that are not restraining orders. For example, you can obtain custody and support orders. There are 17 different types of court orders you can get under the DVPA.

What is a“Personal Conduct Order” under the DVPA?

A personal conduct order tells the other party not to do any of the following things to you: Harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (sexually or otherwise), hit, follow, stalk, molest, destroy personal property, disturb the peace, keep under surveillance, impersonate (on the Internet, electronically or otherwise), or block movements. In addition, a “personal conduct order” can tell the other person not to contact you, either directly or indirectly, in any way, including but not limited to, by telephone, mail, email or other electronic means. A “personal conduct order” can also tell the other person not to take any action to get your address.

What is a “stay away order”?

A “stay-away order” tells the other person to stay a certain number of yards, typically 100 yards, away from you. It can also tell the other person to stay away from your home, workplace, vehicle, school, and other places, including your children’s school. Brief and peaceful contact as required for court-ordered visitation with the children will typically be allowed.

What’s a “move-out order”?

A “move-out” order tells the other person to immediately move out of the residence, which is usually the family home or the apartment where the family has been living, taking only their clothing and personal effects needed until the next court hearing, and to not return.

Can I get orders under the DVPA that tell the other party to get rid of any guns they own?

Yes. The court can tell the other person that they are not permitted to own, possess, have, buy or try to buy, receive or try to receive, or in any other way get guns, other firearms, or ammunition. If the other person already owns guns, the court can order that person to sell or store the guns with a licensed gun dealer or turn the guns into a law enforcement agency within 24 hours.

What if I have pets, can I get any orders under the DVPA to protect my pets?

The court can issue an order that gives you sole possession and control over animals, such as the family pets.

Can I get child custody orders using the DVPA process?

Yes. The court can make child custody and visitation orders, even if the parents were never married and even if there is no divorce action pending. The court can also modify an existing child custody order that may have been previously issued by the court in another proceeding, such as an earlier divorce action.

Can I get child support orders under the DVPA?

Yes. The court can make a child support order, even if the parents were never married and even if no divorce action is pending. The court can also modify an existing child support order.

What if my spouse and I have debts that need to be paid. Can the court use the DVPA to make orders requiring the other party to make payments on our joint debts?

Yes. The court can order the other party to make monthly payments on various debts until the final disposition of those debts can be determined by the court. For example, you may want the court to order the other party to pay the mortgage payment, car payments, and/or credit card payments.

Can I use the DVPA process to get an alimony or spousal support order?

If you are married to the other person or have a domestic partnership with them, then you can ask the court to issue a spousal support order at the same time you apply for domestic violence restraining orders.

What about my cell phone? What if I am worried that my spouse will cut off my cell phone?

The court can issue an order that gives you temporary use, possession, and control of mobile devices and wireless phone accounts. You can also ask the court to order the other party to pay the monthly wireless phone account bill. You can even ask the court to issue an order that directs the wireless service provider to transfer the account from the other person’s name into your name.

What about orders regarding insurance?

The court can issue an order that prohibits the other person from cancelling, cashing out, borrowing against, or changing the beneficiary of any insurance coverage held for your benefit or the benefit of the minor children. This type of order will prohibit the other party from cancelling health insurance; life insurance; automobile insurance, and other types of insurance.

What if my spouse has serious on-going anger issues, how can the court help with that?

The court can order the other person to go to a 52-week batterer intervention program and show proof of completion to the court.

What is an “Emergency Protective Order” or EPO?

If you and/or your children have been the victim of domestic violence and you report the ma er to the police, a police officer will come to your home and interview you and any witnesses. The officer will also likely interview the other person. If the police officer concludes that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exits and that an emergency protective order is necessary to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of domestic violence, then an “Emergency Protective Order” or “EPO” can be issued immediately, day or night.

How long will an EPO last?

An EPO will typically expire in just 5 days. The EPO will state the exact date on which it will expire. EPOs are short-term solutions.

What is a “Temporary Restraining Order” or TRO?

You apply for restraining orders and other orders under the DVPA by filling out a court form known as DV-100 and filing that form, along with other forms, with the court. When you file the DV-100, the court will set a hearing date. The hearing may not be scheduled to occur for several weeks or more. If, after reading your DV-100 on the day you file it with the court, a judge believes one or more restraining orders need to be issued immediately for your protection or for the protection of children, then the court will issue “Temporary Restraining Orders” that will remain in effect until the day of the hearing.

What is the CLETS-001 form?

If you submit a DV-100 to the court, you must also complete and submit to the court a CLETS-001. This is a one page confidential information form. The purpose of the form is to give law enforcement agencies information they can use to enforce any restraining orders. You can find the CLETS-001 form in our Court Forms Database.

In addition to filling out the DV-100 and the CLETS-001, do I also have to fill out other forms?

In addition to your DV-100 and CLETS-001, you will need the DV-109 and the DV-110. If you are asking for financial orders in your DV-100, such as child support, spousal support, debt payment, etc., you will need to complete and file your Income & Expense Declaration, which is FL-150. If you are asking the court to issue child custody orders, you will need to include a “Request for Child Custody and Visitation Orders”, which is DV-105. If you want the court to issue a TRO that includes child custody orders, then you will also need to complete and submit to the court a “Child Custody and Visitation Order”, which is DV-140. You can find all of these forms in our free Court Forms Database.

After I file my DV papers with the court, do I have to serve the other party?

Yes. The other party needs a copy so they know when and where the hearing will take place. The other party also needs a copy so they know which TROs have been issued by the court so they can comply with those orders.

Can I serve my DV paperwork on the other party myself?

No. You cannot serve your domestic violence paperwork on the other party yourself and you can’t serve the papers by mail. A third party needs to personally hand the paperwork to the other party. The sheriff or marshal will serve your domestic violence paperwork for free. If you want the sheriff or marshal to serve your paperwork, you will have to go to the sheriff or marshal’s office, give them copies of all the paperwork, and ask the sheriff or marshal to do the service of process. Another option is to hire a process server.

What if someone has filed for restraining orders against me, do I need to file any paperwork with the court before the hearing?

After you have been served with domestic violence papers, you may want to complete a DV-120, which is entitled, “Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order”. You can find a blank DV-120 in our Court Forms Database that you can fill out and print. For instructions on how to fill out the DV-120, you can read another court form entitled, “How Can I Respond to a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order”, which is DV-120-INFO. You can find the DV-120-INFO form in our Court Forms Database.

What if I get served with domestic violence restraining orders and I decide that I am the party that needs protection. Can I get domestic violence restraining orders against the other party by asking for restraining orders against the other party when I fill out my DV-120?

You can’t use the DV-120 to get restraining orders against the other party. If you want to get restraining orders against the other party, you will have to apply for your own restraining orders. In other words, you will have to complete your own “Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order”, which is DV-100, and the other court forms that go along with the DV-100.

What do I do at the DV hearing when the judge calls my case?

Walk up to the front and sit at the table. You and the other party will be asked to take an oath or affirmation where you promise to tell the truth. Then, there will be a back-and-forth discussion involving you, the judge, and the other party. The judge will listen to each of you. The judge will ask each of you questions. The judge will try to determine who is telling the truth. Hopefully, the judge will have read all of the paperwork you previously filed with the court and he or she will be familiar with the claims being made by each party. If the judge has read your paperwork, you won’t need to repeat the statements you wrote down in your paperwork. If the other party filed a Response, the DV-120, and served you with a copy, you will probably want to tell the judge your response to whatever false or misleading statements the other party included in their DV-120.

Can I bring witnessed to the hearing?

If a third party observed any of the acts of abuse, you may want to bring the third party to the hearing to testify as a witness. If so, when your case is called, let the judge know that a witness has come to the hearing and can testify about acts of abuse that the witness observed. If the judge permits the witness to testify, after the witness takes the oath, ask the witness to describe what the witness saw and heard at the time the abuse took place.

How long will the hearing last?

You can’t predict how long your hearing will last. It depends on how many cases are set to be heard at the same time as your case. The judge may have only ten or fifteen minutes to deal with your case. The judge may allow the hearing on your case to go on for well over an hour. There will be other cases set at the same time as your case. You may have to wait for an hour or two, possibly longer, before your case is called.

What happens at the end of the hearing?

At the conclusion of the hearing, after the judge has listened to both sides, the judge will decide what kinds of orders will be issued. All of your requests may be granted. All may be denied. The judge may grant some orders and deny other orders. If the judge grants any orders, the judge will also decide how long those orders will last. The orders may last up to five years.

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