Domestic Violence And Restraining Orders
If you are in danger now, call 911
You can also get help from the San Mateo County CORA Hotline: 650-312-8515 // 800-300-1080
Get help from the Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic.
If you or your children are being abused or threatened by someone you are or were in a relationship with, or by a close family member (like a parent, child, sibling or grandparent), you may be able to get a restraining order to protect yourself and your children or other people in your household.
For a flowchart that shows you every step, click on the button below.
- Call the Police
- Ask for an Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
- Visit "Ask for a Restraining Order" section below
- Make a Safety Plan
- Go to Victim Advocates at the District Attorney's Office
- Immigration Fears
If you are in danger, call the police. Tell them what happened and show them your injuries, like bruises, scrapes, and any signs from the violence, including broken things. If the person who abused you is there and you are afraid to show the police what happened, tell the officer. If bruises show up later, go back to the police department and make sure they take photographs.
If you are afraid and want protection, ask the police for an Emergency Protective Order or EPO.
Emergency Protective Order
An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is issued by a judge at the request of a police officer. Judges are available to issue EPOs 24 hours a day.
The police may request the EPO if they believe that you or a child are in immediate danger of abuse, based on your allegation of a recent incident of abuse or threat of abuse. The police officer will request the order ONLY they believe that the order is necessary to prevent an act (or another act) of domestic violence or child abuse.
The emergency protective order starts right away and can last up to 7 days. The judge can order the abusive person to leave the home and stay away from the victim and any children for up to a week. That can give you enough time to go to court to file for a restraining order. Please refer to "Ask for a Restraining Order" section below.
There is also a different kind of EPO - called a Gun Violence Emergency Protective Order - that the police can request if you are afraid that someone is a danger to themselves or others and they own or could buy firearms and ammunition. To learn more about gun violence restraining orders, go to Speak for Safety. Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.
Make a Safety Plan
A safety plan can help you be prepared and keep you and your children safe from domestic violence.
- In San Mateo, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA) can help you plan to stay safe with shelter, counseling, and more.
- Hotline: 650-312-8515 // 800-300-1080
- You can find information on planning for your safety from the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
Some things to think about:
- Will you try to leave your home or will you ask the person who's abusing you to leave?
- If you leave, how and when?
- Where will you go? Is there someone safe whom you can stay with? Can you warn that person ahead of time so they're ready too?
- What will you take with you?
- Is there a safe place you can store your things until you are ready to go?
- What important documents will you need? Can you leave them with a person you trust? Maybe keep some of the more important things in your purse or wallet, like ID, social security card, money, passport, credit cards, checkbooks, bank account numbers.
- If you have time, consider also bringing things like medications, immigration papers, car registration/insurance information, medical and school records, birth certificates for you and the children, etc.
- Think about how to stay safe getting to and from work and while you're at work.
- Talk to your children's school so they can be on alert too.
For more tips on how to get ready before, during, and after an attack and to stay safe, visit Make a Safety Plan (California Courts website).
Victim Advocates at the District Attorney's Office
Depending on the seriousness of the violence against you, the police may arrest the abuser and the District Attorney's office may file charges against the abuser and prosecute the case as a criminal case. The DA's office has victim advocates to answer your questions and concerns about the criminal justice process. They may also have resources to help you get services or restitution for damages or other losses you may have suffered.
- In the southern part of San Mateo County, call 650-599-7330;
- In the northern part of the county, call 650-877-5454
You have the right to ask for a restraining order for your protection without being afraid of deportation. If you are worried about immigration issues, whether you are documented or not, keep in mind that you do not have to tell anyone in the family court about your immigration status.
BUT contact an immigration attorney before taking legal action to understand your options and make sure there is nothing to be worried about. If you do not have an immigration attorney, you can call one of the following agencies for help:
- La Raza Centro Legal 415-575-3500
- Immigrant Assistance Line 650-554-2444
- Asian Law Caucus 415-391-1655
- Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights 415-543-6767
Get more immigration resources from the California Courts Immigration Resource Directory.
To ask for a domestic violence restraining order there are several steps you have to take. But first make sure that:
- A restraining order is right for you. Read Can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Help Me? (DV-500-INFO | audio).
- You qualify for a domestic violence restraining order. You and the person you want to restrain must be:
- married or registered domestic partners,
- divorced or separated,
- dating or used to date,
- living together or used to live together,
- parents together of a child, OR
- closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
- You get legal help from the Bay Area Legal Aid Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic.
What a restraining order CAN do
A restraining order is a court order. It can order the restrained person to:
- Not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you,
- Stay away from your home, work, or your children's schools,
- Move out of your house (even if you live together),
- Not have a gun,
- Follow child custody and visitation orders,
- Pay child support,
- Pay spousal or partner support (if you are married or domestic partners),
- Stay away from any of your pets,
- Transfer the rights to a cell phone number and account to the protected person,
- Pay certain bills,
- Not make any changes to insurance policies,
- Not incur large expenses or do anything significant to affect your or the other person's property if you are married or domestic partners,
- Release or return certain property, and
- Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.
There is no fee to ask for a restraining order. It is free.
Steps to Ask for a Restraining Order
- Read How Do I Ask for a Temporary Restraining Order? (DV-505-INFO)
- Fill out and make at least 2 copies of:
- Confidential CLETS Information (CLETS-001)
- Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DV-100)
- Notice of Court Hearing (DV-109); and
- Temporary Restraining Order (DV-110).
If you have children with the person you want protection from and you want a child custody and visitation order, or want to change the one you already have, also fill out:
- Request for Child Custody and Visitation Orders (DV-105) and attach it to the Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DV-100); AND
- Child Custody and Visitation Order (DV-140) and attach to the Temporary Restraining Order (DV-110).
- If it applies to your case, also fill out Request for Order: No Travel With Children (DV-108).
If you want child support, make sure you check the appropriate boxes on Item 13 on Form DV-100 AND fill out:
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) OR a Financial Statement (Simplified) (FL-155).
- Read Which Financial Form - FL-155 or FL-150? (DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.
- The form you fill out should be attached to the Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DV-100).
If you want spousal or domestic partner support, make sure you check the box on Item 17 on Form DV-100 and fill out:
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
- Have your forms reviewed.
If you are filing against a relative, you can have your forms reviewed by the Family Law Facilitator. Or, if you are requesting a Restraining Order against a partner, someone you dated, or your spouse; have your forms reviewed by Bay Area Legal Aid.
- Turn in your forms at the Clerk's office.
The clerk will give your forms to the judge. The judge will read your papers and make a decision whether to make the temporary restraining orders. Ask the clerk when you should return to find out the judge's decision. It may be later that day or the following day, but no longer than a business day.
- Pick up your forms from the Clerk's Office.
- If the judge signed your orders, the Clerk can file them and give you a court date on form DV-109.
- Look at DV-110 to see what the judge ordered.
If the judge denied some or all of the orders you asked for, you can still file your papers and go to the court hearing and ask for the restraining order then.
- If you prefer to cancel the court hearing, fill out and file Waiver of Hearing on Denied Request for Temporary Restraining Order (DV-112).
- Have the temporary restraining order papers served on the restrained person by the deadline.
- Someone 18 or older, not you, has to hand-deliver a copy of everything you filed plus a blank DV-120, to the restrained person and fill out a Proof of Service.
- The deadline for serving the papers will be on Item 5, page 2, of the DV-109.
- The Sheriff will do this for free. Or you can have someone else do it that is not involved in the case, or hire a process server.
- If the papers cannot be served by the deadline, you can ask for an extension. To do this, fill out Request to Continue Hearing (DV-115) and items 1 and 2 of the Order on Request to Continue Hearing (DV-116).
- Go to your court hearing.
Take documents (plus 2 copies) that help prove the abuse like:
- Medical or police reports
- Damaged property
- A threatening letter, email or telephone messages
The judge will make a decision and may give you the orders you asked for, give you some of the orders you asked for, or deny the orders.
If the judge gives you the restraining orders, they will generally last 5 years unless the judge decides less time is appropriate.
Make sure you get a Restraining Order After Hearing (DV-130) with attachments, if relevant, about child custody, visitation, and child support. Keep copies of this order with you at all times, including one in your car, one at home, work, and your children's school. Show it to the police if the restrained person breaks the restraining order.
Enforce the Restraining Order
- If the restrained person disobeys the orders, call the police right away.
- Gather proof of any violation of the order, including dates and times of the violation, a description of what happened and witness names. Make copies of emails or internet postings that violate the order, get witness statements, police reports, anything that helps prove the violation.
- If the restrained person violates the restraining order, they may face criminal charges.
- You may also file for contempt in civil court if the restrained person violates the order, in addition to or instead of criminal sanctions.
- Click for more about Enforcing a Restraining Order (California Courts website)
If there is a restraining order against you, read it carefully and obey the order. If you disobey it, you can go to jail or be fined.
- Read DV-109 and DV-110 to see the details of the order and see when your court date will be.
- Stay away from all the people and places in the order.
- If you are ordered to move out, take clothes and belongings you will need until the court date and move out.
- If you have a gun, you have to turn it in to the police or sell it to a gun dealer. Read How Do I Turn In, Sell, or Store My Firearms? (DV-800-INFO).
- Read How Can I Respond to a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order? (DV-120-INFO).
- Fill out and file a Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DV-120) before your court date to tell the judge your side of the story.
- Even if you do not complete and file this form, go to your court hearing.
- If the protected person asked for child or spousal support, also fill out:
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
- Have someone 18 or older, NOT YOU, give or mail a copy of your DV-120 to the protected person.
- Go to your court hearing.
- If you do not go to court, the judge can make the restraining order without hearing your side of the story. The order can last up to 5 years.
- The judge can also make orders about your children, child support, and other things without your input.
Visit the California Courts website to learn more about Responding to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and how to prepare for court.
- For help filling out the forms to request a Domestic Violence Restraining Order against your partner, someone you dated, or your spouse, go to:
- Bay Area Legal Aid's Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic
1048 El Camino Real, Suite A, Redwood City, CA 94063
- Bay Area Legal Aid's Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic
- You may also be able to get legal help and more resources at:
Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA)
PO Box 5090, San Mateo, CA 94402
Hotlines: 650-312-8515 or 800-300-1080
Legal Aid Society
521 East 5th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94402
- If you are married or in a registered domestic partnership with the person abusing you and you want to file for a divorce, visit our Divorce or Separation page.
- Visit our Videos and More to find information and videos for families going through separation and instructions from other counties in California that can help guide you.
- Visit the California Courts website Domestic Violence pages to get information, instructions, forms, and more.