Domestic Violence What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

If you have been threatened or harmed by a family member or someone close, you have probably been the victim of domestic violence. This article will help you understand how the law handles domestic violence issues and provide information about what domestic violence restraining orders are and how they may protect you.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined by one or more of the following acts having been committed against you (victim) by another person in relationship with you (abuser) who is either an adult or an emancipated minor:
  • Assault
  • Criminal mischief
  • Criminal restraint
  • Verbal threats of violence
  • Terrorist threats
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Criminal trespass
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Lewd acts
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A domestic violence restraining is intended to keep your abuser away from you, to stop them from harassing you, to keep them away from your home, work place or school. A domestic violence incident usually begins with the issuance of a temporary restraining order, which is a civil order, and does not give the abuser a criminal record.

What does a Restraining Order do?

A Domestic Violence restraining order is very specific in stating what the abuser can and can't do. A domestic violence restraining order can:
  • Order the abuser not to have any contact with you, in person or by phone, at home or at work. The order can also state that they not contact you almost anywhere else you ask the court to add to the order. The order can also forbid the abuser from contacting other people in your family.
  • Order the abuser to leave the house or apartment that you and the abuser share; even if it is in the abuser's name.
  • Grant you custody of your minor children, except in certain cases. The court can also order the abuser to pay child support and support for you if you live in a state that allows that. Visitation with the children may be allowed under certain conditions, however if your children are in danger of abuse, you should tell the judge about it and why you think they are in danger too.
  • Order the abuser to receive professional domestic violence counseling or to go to AA or NA.
  • Order the police to go with the abuser to remove his or her personal items from the home, or shared place of business, to further protect you during that time.
  • Order anything else that will help to protect you.

A Domestic Violence Restraining Order provides protection against whom?

There are different types of restraining orders and filing for a domestic violence restraining order can only be done if the victim and the abuser have a close relationship. Close relationships are defined as being married, divorced, separated, dating, previously dated, living together or used to live together as a couple or a family relation such as a parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather or a relative in-law.

How long does a domestic violence restraining order last?

First you will need to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (a "TRO") to get immediate protection. Approximately 10 days after you will be scheduled to return to court for a hearing, which will be indicated on the Temporary Restraining Order. The abuser will also be asked to appear in court. However, the Temporary Restraining Order will not go into effect until the abuser is served with the restraining order. If the abuser is not served before the court date, you must fill out a Reissue Temporary Restraining Order to get a new court date. At the court hearing, the judge will hear both sides, and then he may make the Temporary Restraining Order a permanent restraining order for up to 5 years or dismiss it altogether if there isn't sufficient evidence to warrant its existence.

What is an Emergency Protective Restraining Order?

An emergency protective order is one that is issued by a judge at the request of a law enforcement officer when domestic violence, child abuse, abduction or elder abuse has occurred. If you have been the victim of domestic violence and you are in immediate fear of danger, call 911! When the police arrive, ask the officer to request an Emergency Protective Restraining Order from a Judge. If you need emergency shelter, ask the officer for information on where to find domestic violence resources in your community.

Emergency Protective Orders only last for 5 court days or 7 calendar days. The Police will request an Emergency Protective Order from the judge for you. You will then have to file the appropriate domestic violence restraining order forms with the Family Court to get a Temporary Restraining Order as well as the court date for the hearing to make it permanent.

How to Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Obtaining a domestic violence restraining order is rather simple. To do so you will need to obtain a domestic violence restraining order form and file the order with the court. You will also be required to make a court appearance. You may wish to review information about how to get a domestic violence restraining order.

What if you've been served with a domestic violence restraining order?

As you've just read, it is quite easy to obtain a domestic violence restraining order. If you're innocent, there is no question you'll want to quash the order as soon as possible and make sure that it remains a civil matter. Not handling the matter properly can potentially result in you being left with a criminal record. You may wish to review information on how to respond to a domestic violence restraining order.
Divorce & Family Law
Temporary Restraining Order
About author
Michael Wechsler
Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


There are no comments to display.

Article information

Michael Wechsler
Article read time
4 min read
Last update

More in Divorce & Family Law

More from Michael Wechsler

Share this article