California law allows an alleged victim of violence, threats, stalking or harassment to petition for a court order that restrains the alleged perpetrator from coming near the petitioner. While restraining orders are legitimately needed by many victims, they can also be abused by individuals involved in a contentious divorce or just as a way to “get back” at someone. If you have been served with notice that a temporary restraining order has been issued and you believe there is no basis for the restraining order, you have the right to object to a permanent restraining order at the hearing scheduled by the court. If you do nothing, however, the temporary order will likely become permanent.
A California court may issue one of four different types of restraining orders:
- Domestic violence restraining order
- Elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order
- Civil restraining order
- Workplace violence restraining order
The process by which a restraining order is issued is unlike most other court orders because judges routinely issue temporary restraining orders ex parte, or without allowing the respondent the opportunity to be heard on the matter. This is allowed because when a legitimate need for a restraining order exists there is not time to locate and serve the respondent. Unfortunately, this also means that virtually anyone can request a restraining order based only on that person’s allegations and the restraining order will likely be issued. Sometimes this results in abuse or manipulation of the system.
If a divorce is not going the way a party wants it to go, one way to tip the scales is to allege abuse or threats by the other party. A divorce court will typically consider the existence of a restraining order when making decisions regarding custody or visitation with minor children. Not only could the existence of a restraining order impact your rights to your children but it could also affect your job. If you are required to carry a firearm, for example, you could lose your job altogether if a restraining order is issued against you.
While there may be nothing you can do about a court issuing a temporary restraining order, you can object to a permanent order by appearing at the hearing and defending the allegations made by the petitioner. If you have been served with notice that someone has requested a restraining order against you, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney right away.