For some families, holidays mean higher consumption of alcohol and drugs.
If a drug or alcohol abuser also uses domestic violence to frighten or
harm loved ones, holidays can be scary times for the victims. There are
no national studies proving a firm connection among the various acts of
domestic violence and substance abuse (in fact, localized studies I have seen are often
mixed on whether there is a true connection), but many victims describe
alcohol-induced rage preceding abuse.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you know you should stay
out of harm's way. Do not join the abuser in drug or alcohol abuse.
Try to be around others rather than alone with the abuser while he (or
sometimes she) is most likely to want to hurt you. Most importantly, get
help. Leave the abusive situation,
even if you have no family support. Protecting yourself is too important.
Here’s who to call:
- LA Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-978-3600
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) (TDD 800-787-3224)
This blog will give you tips to keep you on track toward safety. (NOTE:
If you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, you have rights too.)
Give us a call if you need help.
Restraining Order Checklist
1. Emergency Restraining Orders & Criminal Restraining Orders
2. Get to a Safe Place
3. Gather Your Proof
4. Determine Why You Are Leaving
5. Proving State of Mind
6. Obtaining Temporary DV Restraining Orders - Go to Court
7. Service of Temporary Orders on Abuser
8. Noticed or "CLETS*" Hearing/ Evidentiary Hearing
9. Service Again, but Different.
10. Do Not Violate Your Own Restraining Orders.
11. *CLETS Orders are Serious, Life-Changing Court Orders
The Details Will Make or Break Your Case
1. Emergency Restraining Orders and Criminal Restraining Orders.
If you or your children have been attacked, physically injured, or put
in genuine fear of harm, the first thing to do is call the police, get
to the emergency room for care, and take photos of the injuries and bruises
while they are fresh. Waiting even 24 hours to do these steps will hurt
The police, the hospital, and Child Protective Services will all discuss
your options with you. If the attack warrants a criminal charge the police
will submit your case to the District Attorney. However, most domestic
violence is not criminally prosecuted. When you have a legitimate case
you still have the right to obtain civil Domestic Violence Restraining
2. Go to a safe place.
3. No Proof > No Protection! Liar's Contest! He said/She said!
To avoid losing at the final hearing, you must provide as much proof as
possible at the preliminary hearing. Attach proof to your initial paperwork,
authenticate it for the Evidentiary Hearing.
Police Reports (The police officer must be summoned to evidentiary hearing)
- Hospital and Medical Records
- Photographs of injuries or property damage
- Written witness declarations
- Emails, Texts, Social Media
- Phone Recordings Left by the Abuser
4. Decide Why You Need Protection
Always a proper subject for a DVRO, especially when repeated.
Repeated acts of stalking, harassment, disturbing the peace, barricading,
bullying, etc., are proper subjects of a Domestic Violence Restraining
Order. (TIP: A short duration of repeated calls asking for another date
is not Harassment.)
Mutual Breakup Anger
A breakup confrontation, which may even involve a mutual scuffle, screaming,
a fall, neighbors called, etc., while bad, will not result in permanent
restraining orders. These situations are NOT considered true domestic
violence by the courts. Although rage at a breakup often results in a
temporary restraining order because only one side is telling the story,
permanent orders are rarely granted without physical injury.
Protection of Children /
Often, child protection cases are filed as stand-alone DVROs that are better
handled as part of a Parentage or Divorce lawsuit. DVRO hearings frequently
do not completely handle the non-violence issues such as support, custody,
visitation, health insurance, housing, move-always, travel, bill payment,
etc. If a breakup with children will result in a divorce or parentage
case, the Petition for the Family Law case should be filed WITH the request
for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders to avoid procedural delays.
Custody Order Request Masquerading as Domestic Violence
Another ill-advised filing is the request for DVRO that is really a custody
request. If you have no personal fear, but you have a fear that the other
side will take and hold the kids, or does not know how to parent them,
or has made mistakes in keeping the kids safe - These are issues for the
Family Law court. If you bring your case to the wrong court you will end
up with no orders and no protection.
5. Proving State of Mind
Past Acts/Past Fear
Because so many DVRO cases never survive the Temporary Restraining Order
phase, you must make sure that your initial declaration explains your
state of mind. If you experienced past physical acts of violence that
made you afraid, you should list those acts with dates and details.
If past injuries or property damage occurred, but current verbal abuse
makes you anxious that physical violence will occur again, you must put
this in the declaration. However, if the abuser does not scare you, is
incapable of hurting you, or if for some other reason you do not believe
there is a potential for future violence, you may want to check whether
you would be better off suing for property damage, or another tort, but
not for domestic violence protection.
Fear of Future Violence
On July 1, 2014 the Appellate Court ruled in Nevarez v Tonna, a date stalker
case, that if a past physical act of violence was frightening, and the
abuser would not stop contacting the victim after the incident despite
many requests, that the victim is entitled to restraining orders without
having to prove fear that the abuser will hurt her again. This is a nuanced
type of situation—there will be more cases testing this proof of
6. Obtaining Temporary DV Restraining Orders
Go to Court
WARNING! Initial Orders are often granted or denied on the pleadings alone.
Once you fill out your paperwork, either through the self-help center or
through use of a lawyer, and you follow notice procedures, you will have
a preliminary hearing. Although a person's declaration, without any
other proof, will frequently result in a temporary Restraining Order,
a declaration without proof has a high likelihood of failure at the noticed
hearing. Put in as much proof as you have.
7. Service of the Temporary Restraining Orders
You do not have to (and should not) serve your own abuser! Use the Sheriff,
a private process server, or a Relative. Make sure the Proof of Service
is filed with the court.
8. Noticed or "CLETS" Hearing/ Evidentiary Hearing
You will put on your evidence. Bring your witnesses and your paperwork.
Depending on the evidence presented by both sides, you will win a CLETS*
Order, lose, or get some of what you want. The more proof you bring, the
better you will do.
9. Service Again, But Different
Once you win, the Orders will be issued and must be served while you are
still in court by the Bailiff or the Clerk. If the Defendant is not at
court for the noticed hearing you will use the Sheriff for service.
10. Do not Violate Your Own Order!
Sending a mixed message, visiting, taunting, threatening, emailing, or
otherwise inviting the very contact your abuser is now restrained from,
is grounds to have the orders removed.
Do not do it. If there are orders allowing “peaceful contact regarding the children,”
this is an exception, but do not abuse the situation by adding other topics
to your communications.
11. *CLETS Orders are Serious, Life-Changing Court Orders -
CLETS orders, officially, a California Law Enforcement Telecommunications
System Order, is the ultimate "permanent record." If a person
has a CLETS restraining order against him or her, his or her name is in
the State database for domestic violence abusers. The likelihood of that
person working in sensitive security jobs, law enforcement, many military
and government assignments, etc., is reduced or eliminated. The person
under a CLETS Restraining Order may usually not carry a gun, often may
not work with children, and often may not be in education or therapy professions.
This will impact you if you depend on support from the restrained person.
It will definitely impact the restrained person.
If you are a true domestic violence victim you must obtain a DVRO CLETS
Order as a means of long-term protection. You must bring your best proof
at your initial filing of court pleadings so you will not face drawn-out
legal obstacles before you win.
Warning: False or exaggerated claims will be fought against by the accused,
often with every penny they have, because of the seriousness of the consequences.
If your proof is soft,
be prepared to face formal depositions, rigorous cross-examination, and
negative witnesses. If you lose your case, you may even be forced to pay part of the attorney
fees for the other person's defense of his or her reputation.
Therefore, if you realize your claims are caused not by fear of physical
harm but by your need to get out of a relationship that has gone sour,
your own anger at a bad breakup, retaliation for cheating or other behavior
by the accused, your desire for increased support, etc.—consider
dropping your motion for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders before the
noticed hearing to save time, money, and prolonged litigation.
If You Need Help
We should be able to enjoy all the holidays without domestic violence.
However, some of us will need to get out of a bad situation.
Many people decide to handle Domestic Violence Restraining Orders themselves.
Visit your local Courthouse for the paperwork and visit the self-help
desk or attend a class. Take your proof and this checklist with you.
If you find you need professional help, our team of lawyers and staff have
the experience you need.