When a marriage or long-term relationship ends, emotions run high. If violence or intimidation becomes involved, you may want to seek a domestic violence restraining order that protects you from contact with your former partner.

California residents are eligible for a DVRO if a former spouse, romantic partner or family member abuses them or their children. Obtaining a DVRO has no fees and does not require an attorney, though you can designate a family law attorney to advocate on your behalf.

Obtain paperwork from a court clerk

You can get the required DVRO request forms in person at your local California courthouse. The state maintains a searchable database of court locations. You can also download and print the necessary forms and submit them at the courthouse.

Receive a hearing date

After you submit the forms, you will receive a hearing date. In some cases, you will speak to the judge immediately. In other cases, it may take a day or two to hold a hearing. If you believe you are in danger, you can request a temporary restraining order that takes effect before the hearing.

Your former partner or spouse will receive formal legal notice of the restraining order. You can have a family member or friend deliver the paperwork or you can have local law enforcement serve the papers. You cannot personally deliver the paperwork.

Attend the hearing

At this official court proceeding, you must provide proof that your former partner abused you and/or your children. Bring copies of all legal forms, photos of any injuries, medical or damage repair bills associated with incidents of domestic violence, police reports and other documentation.

Abide by the terms of the order

If the judge grants the restraining order, you will receive three free certified copies which the court clerk must stamp. You should provide a copy to anyone who will be involved in enforcing the order, which may include your employer and/or your child’s school or day care.