Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. This is our first video in a series of videos that discuss how to get domestic violence restraining orders. In this initial video, we will talk about who can get domestic violence orders, the grounds for getting these kinds of orders, and the various types of orders you can get under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. In this video, we are often times going to use the phrase “DV Orders” to refer to Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
Ed: Christina, will you please briefly describe the basics when it comes to applying for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders?
Christina: 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, which I am going to refer to as the 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.
Ed: Am I going to have to pay the court a filing fee in order to apply for DV orders?
Christina: It does not cost money to apply for orders under the DVPA. There is no court filing fee.
Ed: Do I have to first file for divorce before I can get DV orders against my spouse?
Christina: 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.
Filing domestic violence papers under the DVPA is not related to the process of getting divorced, even though you can get child custody orders and support orders under the DVPA. If you want to get divorced, you will need to file a divorce petition, which is FL-100, and other court forms in a separate court proceeding. If you want domestic violence restraining orders and you also want to file for divorce, our website has over 50 free videos that will walk you through the entire divorce process, step-by-step, and our website includes a Court Forms Database that includes all of the court forms you will need to complete the divorce. All of the court forms in our database are fillable and they are all free. You can select forms from our database, fill out the forms, print them, and then file the forms with the court.
Ed: Do I need to be a citizen to apply for DV orders?
Christina: You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to apply for a domestic violence restraining orders.
Ed: What do I have to show the court in order to get DV orders?
Christina: You can only get a domestic violence restraining orders if there has been some form of abuse.
Ed: What is “abuse”?
Christina: California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act defines “abuse” as any of the following:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
- Sexual assault.
- 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.
Ed: Who can apply for DV orders under the DVPA?
Christina: If you are going to apply for a domestic violence restraining orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, you must have at least one of the following relationships with the person against whom you are seeking the restraining orders:
- You are married to the person or you are registered, domestic partners.
- You used to be married to the person or you used to be registered, domestic partners.
- You live together.
- You used to live together.
- You are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
- You are dating or used to date.
- You are engaged or used to be engaged to be married.
- You are the parents together of a child or children under 18 years of age.
Ed: What if I don’t have any of those kinds of relationships with the person against whom I want to get DV orders?
Christina: If none of the above relationships apply to your situation, you can still get restraining orders, but not under the DVPA. For example, if you have a dispute with your neighbor, you can apply for civil harassment orders. Civil harassment orders are beyond the scope of our website.
Ed: What kinds of DV orders can I get under the DVPA?
Christina: Using the DVPA Judicial Council forms, 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. Again, you can use the DVPA Judicial Council forms to obtain these kinds of orders even if you have not filed for divorce and even if you are not married to the other person.
Ed: Can you run through all of the different kinds of orders I can get under the DVPA?
Christina: Sure. There are 17 different kinds of orders you can obtain under the DVPA.
Ed: Let’s start with a “Personal Conduct Order”. What is that kind of order?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Is any kind of contact allowed if the court issues a personal conduct order?
Christina: Peaceful written contact through a lawyer or a process server for service of court papers is allowed. Also, brief and peaceful contact for court-ordered visitation with the children will typically be allowed.
Ed: What is a “stay away order”?
Christina: 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.
Ed: What’s a “move-out order”?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Can I get orders under the DVPA that tell the other party to get rid of any guns they own?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Can I get an order under the DVPA that will allow me to record certain conversations that I may have with the other party?
Christina: Yes. In California, it’s a crime to record confidential communication without the consent of all parties to the conversation. Confidential communication is one where any party to the communication reasonably expects the conversation to be confined to the parties participating in the conversation. This means it is a crime to secretly make a recording of a conversation you have with your spouse, whether that conversation is over the telephone or in person. However, you can obtain a restraining order under the DVPA that will permit you to legally record conversations between you and the other party if those conversations violate a judge’s order. For example, assume a judge issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits your spouse from threatening you. If your spouse threatens you, over the phone or in person, then, with this type of order, you can legally record that conversation.
Ed: What if I have pets, can I get any orders under the DVPA to protect my pets?
Christina: The court can issue an order that gives you sole possession and control over animals, such as the family pets.
Ed: Can I get child custody orders using the DVPA process?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Can I get child support orders under the DVPA?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Can the court issue other types of orders about a property besides an order that tells the other party to move out of our joint residence?
Christina: The court can issue “property control orders” which can give you temporary use, possession, and control over various types of property. Perhaps you are concerned your spouse will attempt to take your car away from you. You can use this type of order to be awarded control over particular items of the property until some final disposition of the property can be determined by the court.
Ed: 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?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Can I get orders that prohibit the other party from selling or otherwise disposing of our assets?
Christina: If you are married to the other party or have a registered domestic partnership, you can ask the court to issue an order that prohibits that person from selling, hiding, destroying, getting rid of, or borrowing against property or possessions, except in the usual course of business or for necessities of life.
Ed: Can I use the DVPA process to get alimony or spousal support order?
Christina: 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 a domestic violence restraining orders. Again, there is no requirement that a divorce action is filed.
Ed: What about my cell phone? What if I am worried that my spouse will cut off my cell phone?
Christina: 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.
Ed: What about orders regarding insurance?
Christina: 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 canceling health insurance; life insurance; automobile insurance, and other types of insurance.
Ed: Can I get an award of attorney’s fees from the court?
Christina: Yes. The court can order the other party to pay all or part of any attorney’s fees and costs that you incurred in the domestic violence proceeding.
Ed: Can I get the court to order the other party to pay other costs?
Christina: Yes. The court can order the other party to pay for your lost earnings or for services caused directly by the other person. This could include the cost of repairing property the other party damaged. It could also include medical bills or counseling bills you incurred due to the abuse.
Ed: What if my spouse has serious on-going anger issues, how can the court help with that?
Christina: The court can order the other person to go to a 52-week batterer intervention program and show proof of completion to the court.
Ed: In the next video, we will discuss the initial court forms you need to fill out in order to start your application for domestic violence restraining orders.