Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs) & Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs): Procedures, Preparation, Possibilities

Recent and ongoing orders to stay home may not be welcome news to all. For some, it may exacerbate already tense, unhealthy dynamics and lead to violence. If a romantic partner – past or present – married or not – is making you feel unsafe, you may very well qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).

A DVRO is meant to keep your abuser away so that you remain not only physically safe but free from physical or mental abuse.

The 58 Superior Courts throughout California (one for each county in California) have the power to issue Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO). Only a court can issue a DVRO. In a nutshell, the application, review, and decision-making process goes like this:

  1. Complete your DVRO paperwork. You may be surprised to hear that DVROs can be used for more than stay-away orders. They can be used to:
    • issue a move-out order,
    • make temporary custody orders, and
    • to make temporary property orders. It is good practice to speak to an attorney so you do not accidentally forgo a viable option.
  2. Drop your completed DVRO paperwork off at your local Superior Court. When you submit your documents, you will get a telephone number to call to check on the status of your application. It takes the Court 1- 2 court days to issue a temporary order. We suggest speaking to an attorney about timing considerations and the consequences of court closures throughout California.
  3. Based upon a review of your unique circumstances, a Judge will make temporary orders and the clerk will issue a hearing date. The Judge makes these decisions based entirely on your DVRO application. The temporary order will either: (i) grant your request in full until, (ii) partially grant and partially deny your request, or (iii) deny your request in full.
  4. You must personally serve the other party with the Judge’s Temporary Order. The temporary orders only go into effect once the other party is personally served. The other party must be served timely before the hearing and a proof of service completed so that your hearing date does not get continued.
  5. Appear at your hearing on the date listed on your Temporary Order paperwork. Hearings are typically set 3 weeks after you file your request. This is your opportunity to present your case more fully to the Judge. The opposing party will likely show up to contest your requests. We suggest you speak with an attorney about testifying in court and cross-examining the other party. At the end of the hearing, the Judge will make longer-term orders. These may or may not be in line with the temporary orders you initially received. The Judge will either deny your DVRO request, or grant your DVRO request for (i) 6 months, (ii) 1 year, (iii) 3 years, (iv) 5 years, or (v) forever.

But what if you feel you are in danger right now? As with any other emergency, call 911. When Law Enforcement arrives, explain your circumstances. Let the Police Officer know about any physical violence, sexual abuse, or threats of violence towards you, a child, an elder, or dependent adult. Based upon your situation, the Police Officer can issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) right then and there. However, EPOs can only last up to 7 days. Therefore, if you need protection beyond 7 days, you need to seek a DVRO from the Court through the process described above. We suggest you speak with an attorney immediately so that you do not experience a gap in protection.

We are here to help you in any variety of capacities, ranging from full representation through the DVRO process, to simply discussing your options and advising you as to the different legal recourses that may be available to you.

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