Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
Family Law and Spousal Abuse Lawyer


DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG
BEFORE APPLYING FOR A RESTRAINING ORDER


If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is important to take action as soon as possible. If you are afraid
that a spouse or partner may cause you harm you should immediately call the police. They have the
power to issue ex parte emergency protective orders. You can then go to court and request that a Judge
issue a Temporary Restraining Order. Many courtrooms have volunteers who will help you prepare the
paperwork. If the Judge grants you a temporary restraining order (TRO), the Judge will then direct that
the paperwork be served on the other side and will set the matter for a trial to decide whether the order
should be made permanent. The trial must take place within 21 days.


There are practical and legal reasons why there is a danger in waiting too long before you file an
application for a restraining order. As a practical matter, a restraining order gives the victim of domestic
abuse protection against further abuse. It may include personal restraining orders which order that the
batterer stays a certain distance away from the victim. As a legal matter, if you wait too long, it may raise
credibility issues with the court. The batterer may argue that someone who waited weeks or months does
not have a reasonable apprehension of further harm and therefore does not need a restraining order.  
Unfortunately, it is a fact that some people apply for domestic violence restraining orders to seek a
litigation advantage in divorces or custody proceedings.


The purpose behind our domestic violence legislation is to prevent future acts of abuse.  In one case, the
Court said that it would only grant a restraining order if there was a preponderance of the evidence that
"the protected party entertained a “reasonable apprehension” of future abuse.” It went on to say that the
apprehension of future abuse is an objective test based on the apprehensions of a reasonable man or
woman in the same circumstances. That case involved a request for a renewed, permanent restraining
order against the victim’s former fiancé. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order because it
was “based solely on the victim's subjective desire the protective order be extended”.  The Court of
Appeals held that the trial court should have considered the “change in circumstances” which occurred in
the 3 years after the original order had been issued because it showed that the “probability of future
acts” of abuse may have decreased.  


                                                                                   
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Contact a Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney at Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell
Call for a free consultation now 310.247.9913.



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