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Alameda County Family Justice Center

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What everyone should know about protection orders in Alameda County

This information is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Every individual's domestic violence situation is different. Persons are encouraged to seek direct advice specific from a domestic violence service provider or attorney.

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (also known as a Protective Order)?

A protection order is a document issued by the court, at your request, to help you protect yourself from someone who is abusing you, threatening to hurt you, or harassing you. It can also provide other types of relief from abuse. A protection order can help with the following:

Sets Boundaries/Limits. It can possibly require the abuser to stay away from you and your home. This might include children, children's child care facility/school, family members that live with you and/or your workplace.

Sends a Strong Message. A protection order lets the abuser know you won't put up with abusive behavior. However, while a protection order is supposed to help keep you safe, it should not be viewed that a protection order alone will keep your abuser away. Depending on your situation, a protection order could make things worse. It is encouraged that you speak to a legal advocate to determine your options.

What can a Domestic Violence Restraining Order do?

Stay Away from You. Once a protection order is issued, it can help keep your abuser away from your home, your workplace or anywhere you go. The abuser is supposed to stay 100 yards away from wherever you are (100 yards is the size of a football field).

Move Out. You can request a 'Move-out Order' that requires that the abuser move out of the home. If the both of you live together, you can ask a law enforcement officer be on the scene when you or the abuser collects his or her belongings.

Get into a Domestic Violence Program. The judge may require the abuser to attend a 52-week batterer's treatment program that focuses on his/her power and control issues and take accountability for their abuse. If there are substance abuse issues, the judge may also require the abuser to attend some program that focuses on substance abuse. The judge may also encourage survivors to attend regular support groups to learn more about the dynamics of abuse and their options to keep safe.

Grant You Temporary Custody of Children. Depending on the details of the case and/or until the court makes a final decision about child custody, you may be able to get temporary custody/visitation Orders. Custody decisions are made by the judge with the assistance of a court-affiliated program, Family Court Services, where a mediator speaks to both parents regarding custody issues and arrangements and will make a recommendation to the judge on the best interests of the child or children.

Ability to Request Supervised Visits. Depending on the details of the case, there may be restrictions put on the abuser's visitation of the children. For example, the visits may be supervised by a third party. A third party can be a professional from a supervised visitation center or a non-professional like a neutral third party (like a family member or friend).

Request Child Support Payments. The abuser may be required to send you money to meet your children's needs on a monthly basis. The amount paid to your children depends on variable factors, including the abuser's income and your income and so forth. The court will decide the final amounts.

Can I get a domestic violence restraining order ?

Not everyone is eligible to obtain a protective order. It is encouraged for you to seek the advice of an advocate or law enforcement on what a protective order can and cannot do for you.

In order to qualify, you must have one of the following relationships to the person you want restrained:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Person with whom you share or shared a living space
  • Have or had a dating/engagement relationship
  • Parents of a child
  • Relative to the second degree (grandparents, but not cousins)

The person you want restrained must have committed at least one of the following acts:

  • Recent physical violence (usually within the past 6 months)
  • Recent threats of physical violence (past 3-6 months)
  • Harassment (excessive phone calls, threatening or upsetting notes etc.)
  • Recent sexual assault or molestation
  • Stalking
  • Verbal abuse (only where very severe)

A restraining order cannot be issued without "reasonable proof" that the party to be restrained committed the abuse. Detailed documentation or a signed statement of particular incidents of abuse, including dates on which it occurred, might be considered sufficient evidence.

The following items may be very helpful to the court if attached to your statement:

  • Police reports of recent incidents
  • Medical/hospital records
  • Photographs of injuries
  • Emergency protective orders
  • Criminal protective order