When any type of relationship shows signs of abuse or danger, panic can lead to indecision and confusion. However, it is important to stay informed of the legal relief available in these situations. According to a report from the New York-based advocacy organization Safe Horizon, one in four women will experience domestic violence during their life. Further, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the United States. Therefore, if you are experiencing an abusive or unsafe relationship with another individual, you may need to file a restraining order in California to keep yourself safe.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a legally enforceable court order that prohibits an individual (the restrained person) from engaging in abusive activities or conduct against another person (the protected person). “Abuse” as applied to restraining orders can mean a number of things. For example, abuse may include:
- Excessive and inappropriate contact (e.g. phone calls, emails, texts, social media interaction) or stalking
- Physical abuse, whether sexual or otherwise
- Verbal or physical threats of violence
- Destruction of property
- Other inappropriate conduct
How Does a Restraining Order Work?
A restraining order may place one of three main prohibitions on an individual: restraints on personal conduct, stay-away orders, and residence exclusion orders.
Restraints on Personal Conduct
A personal conduct order prevents the restrained party from engaging in activities directed at a protected party or person. In other words, it prohibits the restrained party from engaging in conduct that is otherwise allowed. The court orders personal conduct restrains to prohibit the restrained party from carrying on with abusive activity.
A stay-away order is exactly what it sounds like: an order that the restrained party stay away from the protected party for a set period of time, and at a set distance. Sometimes, abuse is not so much about physical interaction, but the perceived or actual threat of physical or emotional violence or abuse. As a result, these orders take into consideration the role that proximity can play in an abusive relationship. Schools, places of employment, residences, vehicles, and other places relevant to the protected person’s daily life are all areas from which the order may prohibit the restrained party from visiting.
Finally, residence exclusion orders force the restrained party to vacate the house, apartment, or dwelling of the protected party. The court reserves this type of relief for situations involving either domestic violence or elder abuse. A party served with a residence exclusion order may only take necessary personal belongings. Then, they may not return to the residence until after a court hearing.
Typical Circumstances for Filing a Restraining Order in California
There are four main circumstances under which a person may file a restraining order in California. Each circumstance is based on the relationship between the protected party and the abuser.
To file a domestic violence-based restraining order, the applicant must have been abused by someone with whom he or she has a close relationship. In determining whether the parties are closely related, the court will consider factors such as whether the parties are married or registered domestic partners, whether they are divorced or dating (past or present), whether the parties are cohabiting, or if they are related by blood or law.
Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse
For an applicant to file for an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, they must show one of two things. First, the applicant must be 65 years old or older. Otherwise, an applicant between the ages of 18 and 64 must suffer from a qualified mental or physical disability. Furthermore, this disability must prevent them from protecting themselves against the abuser. In addition, the applicant must show that they are the victim of either financial or physical abuse, neglect, or abandonment. On the other hand, they may also show they are being deprived of the services or treatment needed to avoid physical, emotional, or mental suffering.
Civil harassment is similar to domestic violence, but does not require evidence of a close relationship. Instead, these restraining orders allow parties to file against their employer, strangers such as virtual stalkers, distant family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Other than this distinction, a civil harassment-based order is similar to a domestic violence-based order.
A workplace violence order is a restraining order that employers may file due to a harassed, stalked, or abused employee. The purpose is to protect the employee, employer, and all other parties in the workplace against a threat of violence.
Note that only employers may file a workplace violence order. On the other hand, an employee would seek the aforementioned civil, elder/dependent adult, or domestic violence restraining order.
A People’s Choice Can Help you File a Restraining Order in California
You can simplify the process of filing a restraining order by hiring the team at A People’s Choice to prepare the necessary forms for you. As one of California’s premiere legal document assistance services, the staff at A People’s Choice have decades of experience. We provide cost-effective assistance to our clients hoping to avoid the hassle of dealing with an attorney. If you are considering filing a restraining order, or need help with any other legal documents, let A People’s Choice take away the stress of preparing the paperwork. Reach out to us today and we can start your paperwork ASAP!