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Q & A: What is a protective order?

A protective order, also referred to in California as a domestic violence restraining order, is a type of restraining order that enjoins specific acts of abuse, excludes a person from a dwelling, or enjoins other specified behavior necessary to ensure that the orders preventing abuse are upheld. These orders can be issued ex parte, or after a noticed hearing, or be included in a judgment. Regardless of when they are issued, they are still referred to as protective orders. Final protective orders may also include provisions for child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

If abuse is imminent and the court is not open, a victim of domestic violence may request the help of a law enforcement officer to obtain an emergency protective order. The law enforcement officer must specifically request that a judicial officerissue the emergency protective order. This type of domestic violence prevention order remains in effect for five judicial business days after it was issued, and not more than seven calendar days. This is the only type of domestic violence restraining order that can be issued by anyone other than a judge. Talk to your attorney about securing a domestic violence prevention order if you are concerned about the safety of your children or yourself, or if there has been a history of domestic violence. If you are concerned that your spouse will annoy, threaten, harass, or intimidate you after the divorce petition is filed, and there has been a history of abuse or harassing conduct, ask your lawyer whether you can request a domestic violence prevention order. The violation of a domestic violence prevention order is a criminal offense, which can result in immediate arrest, and is available to restrain future harassing conduct.