Getting a Restraining Order from Your Spouse

If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for confidential support. 

If you're considering a restraining order against your spouse, you're likely facing a difficult and potentially dangerous situation. It's important to understand the basics of restraining orders, also known as protection orders or orders of protection, before deciding if it's the right course of action for you.

A restraining order, also known as a protection order or an order of protection, is a legal document that prohibits someone from contacting or coming near another person. This can include physical contact, phone calls, text messages, emails, or any other form of communication. Restraining orders are typically issued by a court and are designed to protect victims of abuse or harassment.

Domestic Violence and Marriage

Domestic violence within a marriage is a grave issue and is not limited to physical abuse—it includes emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse. It's a pattern of coercive behaviors that one person exercises over another to gain power and control. It can happen to anyone, irrespective of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. It's important to recognize these signs of abuse and take the necessary steps to protect oneself.

If you're a victim of marital abuse, it's crucial to understand that you have the right to protect yourself. One of these protection methods includes a restraining order against your spouse. This legal order offers safety and peace of mind by preventing your abusive spouse from contacting or approaching you. Before applying for a restraining order, consult a legal professional who can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options.

How to Obtain a Restraining Order Against Your Spouse

To obtain a restraining order against your spouse, you'll need to follow several key steps. Begin by gathering any evidence of abuse, including photographs of injuries, copies of threatening emails or texts, medical records, or witness statements. Document each incident with as much detail as possible, including the date, time, location, and what occurred. This evidence will be crucial in proving your case in court.

Next, visit your local courthouse to request a restraining order. The specific procedure can vary by jurisdiction, but you will typically need to fill out paperwork detailing the reasons for the order. This is where your documented evidence will come in handy. You may be required to appear before a judge, especially if the order is urgent.

The steps to file a restraining order generally include:

  • Documenting all incidents of abuse
  • Gathering evidence (photos, texts, emails, medical records)
  • Visiting your local courthouse
  • Completing the necessary paperwork
  • Possibly appearing before a judge

Once the order is granted, it's important to keep a copy with you at all times and to give copies to relevant parties, such as your children's school or your workplace. Remember, a restraining order is an important tool for your protection, but it's not a guarantee of safety. Continue to take other safety measures and work with local domestic violence organizations to ensure you receive all the support and protection you need.

Types of Restraining Orders

In California, there are four types of restraining orders that can be obtained:

  • Emergency Protective Order (EPO): This type of order is granted by police officers in emergency situations where there is an immediate threat of abuse.
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO): A DVRO is obtained from the court and can last up to five years. It can include orders for your abusive spouse to stay away from you, move out of a shared home, and stop all forms of contact.
  • Civil Harassment Restraining Order: This type of order is obtained when the abuser is not a spouse or domestic partner but has continually harassed or abused someone.
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Order: This order is obtained when an abuser has exhibited violent behavior or made threats in the workplace.

It's important to understand which type of restraining order is best suited for your situation and work with a legal professional to help you navigate the process. Remember, obtaining a restraining order is just one step towards protecting yourself from abuse. Seek support from family, friends, and domestic violence organizations to ensure your safety and well-being.

Enforcement and Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order

A restraining order functions as a deterrent against an abusive individual and is enforceable by law. If your spouse violates the terms of the restraining order, they can face serious legal consequences. Jurisdiction and the nature of the violation can determine the severity of these consequences, but they typically include fines, mandatory counseling, probation, or jail time. It's essential to report any violation to the police immediately, providing as much detailed information and evidence as possible.

The legal consequences of violating a restraining order can include:

  • Fines: Depending upon the severity of the violation and the jurisdiction, fines can range significantly.
  • Mandatory counseling: The court may order the violator to attend anger management or other counseling programs.
  • Probation: The violator may be placed under supervised probation, requiring regular check-ins with a probation officer.
  • Jail time: In severe cases or for repeat offenses, the violator may be sentenced to jail time.

Restraining Orders and Divorce Proceedings

A restraining order can have significant implications for divorce proceedings. It can affect custody agreements, division of assets, and spousal support. In general, courts take allegations of domestic violence very seriously, and if proven, it's likely to substantially impact the outcome of the divorce.

If a restraining order is in place, the abusive spouse may likely be ordered to leave the shared home. When it comes to child custody, courts prioritize the safety and well-being of the child. Therefore, if a spouse has a history of domestic violence, the court will consider this when deciding on custody arrangements.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the impact of a restraining order on divorce proceedings may vary based on the specific circumstances. It's always best to consult a legal professional to understand how a restraining order may affect your situation.

At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, we understand the complexity and sensitivity of domestic violence issues within a marriage. Our experienced attorneys are here to guide you through obtaining a restraining order and navigating divorce proceedings. We prioritize our clients' safety and well-being and are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation.

Contact us online or call us at (949) 565-4158 for a confidential consultation.