File a Restraining Order in California


When a
relationship (romantic or otherwise) begins to show signs of abuse or danger,
panic can lead to indecision and confusion. It is important to stay informed of
the existing forms of legal relief available in these situations. According to
report from New York based advocacy
organization Safe Horizon, 1 in 4 women will experience an instance of domestic
violence at some point during their life. Further, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, shows that domestic violence is the third
leading cause of homelessness in the United States. You may need to file a restraining order in California to
give you the peace of mind you deserve.

What is a restraining order?

A restraining order is a legally
enforceable order from the court that prohibits an individual (the restrained
person) from engaging in abusive activities or conduct against another person
(the protected person). “Abuse” as applied to restraining orders can mean a
number of things. Abuse can be:

Excessive and inappropriate contact (e.g. phone calls, emails,
texts, social media interaction) or stalking

Physical abuse, whether sexual or otherwise

Verbal or physical threats of violence


Destruction of property

Other inappropriate conduct

There are three main prohibitions
that a restraining order can place on a party: restraints on personal conduct,
stay-away orders, and residence exclusion orders.

 order prevents the restrained party from engaging in
activities directed at a protected party or person. It prohibits the restrained
party from engaging in some sort of act or conduct that would otherwise be
allowed. The court will prohibit the restrained party from carrying on with the
abusive activity.

stay-away order
is exactly what it sounds like; an order that the restrained party must stay
away from the protected party for a set period of time, and at a set distance.
Sometimes abuse is not so much about physical interaction, but the perceived or
actual threat of physical or emotional violence or abuse. These orders take
into consideration the role that proximity can play in an abusive relationship.
Schools, places of employment, residences, vehicles, and other places that are
relevant to the protected person’s daily life are all areas that the restrained
party may be prohibited from visiting.

Finally, residence
 orders force the restrained party to vacate the
house, apartment, or dwelling of the protected party. This type of relief is
reserved for situations involving either domestic violence or elder abuse. If a
party is served with a residence exclusion order, they are allowed to take only
personal belongings (like clothing and other necessities) and are not allowed
to return until after the court hearing.

Under what circumstances may a person file a Restraining
Order in California?

There are four circumstances
a person may file a restraining order in California, each based on the
relationship you have with your abuser. The different relationships that are
determined by the following elements:

Domestic Violence: To file a domestic violence
based restraining order, the applicant must have been abused by someone with
whom he or she has a close relationship. In determining whether the parties are
closely related, the court will consider factors such as whether the parties
are married or are registered domestic partners, whether they are divorced or
dating (past or present), whether the parties are cohabiting, or if they are
related by blood or law.

Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse: For an
applicant to file for an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order, as a
preliminary matter, the applicant must show one of two things. First, the
applicant must be 65 years old or older. If that is not the case, the applicant
can be between the ages of 18 and 64, and suffer from a qualified mental or
physical disability that prevents them from being able to protect themselves
from his abuser.

In addition, the applicant must show
that he or she is the victim of either financial or physical abuse, neglect or
abandonment, or is being deprived of the services or treatment needed to avoid
physical, emotional, or mental suffering.

Civil Harassment: Civil harassment is similar to
domestic violence, but it does not require a showing of a close relationship.
These restraining orders allow you to file against your employer, strangers
(think of someone you have never met that is stalking or harassing you in
person or on the internet for example), more distant family members, friends,
neighbors, or acquaintances. Other than this distinction, a civil harassment
based order is similar to a domestic violence based order.

Workplace Violence: A workplace violence order is a
restraining order reserved for employers to file because of an employee that is
being harassed, stalked, or abused. The purpose is to protect the employee, the
employer, and anyone else that may be present at the workplace against a real
threat of violence.

An important element in filing this
sort of order is that the person filing must be an employer; not an employee.
An employee would seek the aforementioned civil, elder/dependent adult, or
domestic violence restraining orders.

How can Sonoma County LDA help you file a Restraining Order in

The process
of filing a restraining order can be simplified by having the team at Sonoma
County LDA prepare the necessary forms for you. As one of California’s
premier legal document assistance services, the staff at A Sonoma County
LDA have decades of experience in providing cost-effective assistance to our
clients hoping to avoid the hassle of dealing with an attorney. If you are
considering filing a restraining order, or need help with any other legal
documents, let A Sonoma County LDA take the additional stress of preparing the
paperwork out of the equation for you.  Sonoma County LDA
  can start your paperwork right away.


SB1418 authorizes non-lawyers to prepare legal documents for people doing their own legal tasks. Effective January 1, 2000, these non-lawyers, called Legal Document Assistants, may:

  • Distribute to their customers legal materials that have been published or approved by a lawyer
  • Prepare the customers’ legal documents under the direction of their customers
  • File the customers’ legal documents in the appropriate courts


To qualify as a Legal Document Assistant, a person must:

  • Register in the County in which they work
  • Post a $25,000 Bond
  • Establish that he or she has a minimum level of experience and/or education

Every Legal Document Assistant is required to use a Contract. The Contract will provide appropriate notice to the Legal Document Assistant’s customers regarding the scope of the customers’ rights and the Legal Document Assistant’s duties. This Bill was passed for your protection. When you look to hire a Legal Document Assistant after January 1, 2000 be sure to ask if he or she is bonded and registered.  


Who are Legal Document Assistants? (LDA)

Legal Document Assistants were once commonly known as Independent Paralegals. However, as of January 1st, 2000, only those Paralegals working directly for attorneys may now be referred to as Paralegals. Those formerly known as Independent Paralegals are now officially known as Legal Document Assistants (LDAs). LDAs often have the same educational background as a paralegal and are REQUIRED by law to be registered and bonded in the county in which they have their principal place of business. Please Note:

  • A Legal Document Assistant is NOT a Lawyer.
  • By law, they cannot give you legal advice or represent you in the courts in any matter.
  • If you need to consult with an attorney, your LDA will be able to provide you with a referral.
  • We always suggest that you be sure to ask the LDA you are thinking of retaining if he or she is bonded and registered in their county. This is for your protection. Registration and bond information are available at the Sonoma County Clerks Office. If a person is acting as an LDA but is not registered and bonded, then they are operating illegally in California. The Bond is for your protection!