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To ask for a civil harassment restraining order there are several steps you have to take. But first make sure that:
1. A restraining order is right for you. Read Can a Civil Harassment Restraining Order Help Me? (Form CH-100-INFO).
2. You qualify for a civil harassment restraining order. You qualify if:
3. If available, you get help from an agency in your area.
Once you are sure you qualify for a civil harassment restraining order, you are ready to fill out the forms (or have a lawyer or civil harassment self-help clinic help you with the forms). If you are not sure you qualify, ask a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer. You can also ask your local domestic violence agency. They can let you know if you need to file a domestic violence restraining order instead of a civil harassment one. Your court’s self-help center may also be able to help you with the restraining order.
1. Fill out your restraining order forms
2. Fill out your court’s local forms (if any)
Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. Some courts also have forms on their website. Find your local court’s website.
3. Have your forms reviewed
If your court’s self-help center helps people with civil harassment restraining orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.
4. Make at least 5 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the person you want protection from. The extra copies will be for other protected people or for you to keep in a safe place. The original is for the court.
Some courts do not want you to make the copies until after Step 2 below, so make sure you ask your court clerk for the procedures in your court.
IMPORTANT: Your restraining order paperwork will go to the restrained person in your case and he or she will get a chance to see everything you write. If you are staying somewhere you do not want the restrained person to know about and you want to keep the address confidential, do NOT write it on these papers. You can use a program called “Safe at Home” that gives you a secure address to use for your court papers (or for banking and other things) where you can still get your court papers without having to reveal your confidential address. Click to learn about Safe at Home.
Once you have filled out all your forms, you have to file them with the court. Keep in mind that procedures for filing papers for restraining orders vary from court to court, so check with the court clerk for the procedure in your court.
In general, you have to follow these steps:
1. Take your forms to the court clerk
The clerk will let you know what to do next. In some courts, the clerk will give all your forms to the judge. In other courts, you may have to go to the courtroom directly. Either way, the judge will read your papers (maybe speak to you) and make a decision on whether or not to make the orders you are asking for. If you leave your forms with the clerk, ask the clerk when to return to see if the judge made the orders you asked for. The judge must decide by the next business day, but the exact time varies from court to court.
2. Find out if the judge issued the temporary restraining order
Return to the courthouse when the clerk tells you to pick up your paperwork. Look over all the paperwork the clerk returns to you to see:
3. File your forms
The court clerk will file your forms, including the Temporary Restraining Order (CLETS - TCH) (Form CH-110), if it was granted. “File” means that the court clerk will make the order an official part of the court’s record of your case. The clerk will keep the original for the court and give you the 5 copies stamped “Filed.” If you need more copies, you can make them yourself.
4. Distribute your copies of the temporary restraining order, if it was granted
Restraining orders get entered into a special computer system at the California Department of Justice. That way, police officers across the state can find out about your order. In many courts, the court will send your order to the state computer for you. But if your court does not do it, you must do it yourself. Look at item 9 of your Temporary Restraining Order (CLETS - TCH) (Form CH-110) to see whether you or your court clerk will do this.
If the judge did NOT give you any or all of the orders that you asked for
You can see if the judge denied all or some of the temporary orders you requested by looking at item 4 of the Notice of Court Hearing (Form CH-109). Even if the judge did not make all the temporary orders you asked for, you can still go to the court hearing and ask for those orders. The judge may grant them at the court hearing, even if he or she did not grant them as temporary orders before the hearing.
If the judge denied your request because, in his or her opinion, the facts you provided on your Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Orders (Form CH-100) did not justify a temporary restraining order (you can find out by looking on item 4(b) of your Form CH-109), you can also try to provide more specific information and facts for the judge, and resubmit your temporary order. To do this, you will have to file an amended Form CH-100 with the additional information, as well as a new Form CH-109 and Form CH-110.
If all or part of your request was denied and you do not want to go forward, you can tell the court clerk that you want to cancel the court hearing. If you do that, you can also dismiss your case by filing a Request for Dismissal (Form CIV-110) or simply do nothing, which will keep the case open but inactive if no more papers are filed. If you want, you can refile your request at a later date. If you dismissed your case, you will have to go back to Step 1 above to fill out and file all the initial forms. If you did not dismiss the case, and simply canceled the court hearing, you will have to file an amended Form CH-100, and a new Form CH-109 and Form CH-110. Your court may handle this process a little differently, so make sure you ask the clerk what to do if you want to drop your case or want to re-open it later.
"Serving" means that the other side must get copies of any paper you file with the court. In “service” a third person (NOT you) is the one who actually delivers the paperwork to the other side. The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.”
The server must:
Until the other side has been properly "served," the judge cannot make any permanent orders. Remember, so far, you have a temporary restraining order, which runs out the day of your court hearing unless the judge extends it or gives you a “permanent” restraining order.
In civil harassment cases, a law enforcement officer may be able to serve your restraining order papers for you. Look at item 10 on Form CH-110 to see if the judge included an order for free service by law enforcement. They will do it for free if the restraining order is based on stalking, violence, or a credible threat of violence. Otherwise, they may charge you a fee unless you have a fee waiver order from the court.
You can also hire a "process server,” which is a business you pay to deliver court forms. Search online for "process serving" in your area or look in the Yellow Pages of your phone book.
To serve your papers, follow these steps:
To find your deadline for service:
In addition to serving a copy of your papers, also serve BLANK:
If the restrained person was NOT served
The restrained person must be served before the hearing. If the restrained person wasn't served, you can ask the judge to extend the temporary restraining order until a new court date to give you more time to serve your papers.
You will need a Request to Continue Court Hearing and to Reissue Temporary Restraining Order (Form CH-115) to ask the judge for a new court date. Do this before or at your hearing. (If you wait until after the hearing, you have to start from the very beginning.) If the judge signs this order, the restraining order will last until the new hearing date.
To ask for an extension on the restraining order and new court hearing date:
This section will tell you how to get ready for your hearing.
Do not miss your hearing!
If you miss it, the restraining orders will end and you will have to start from the beginning.
Get there 30 minutes early:
Practice what you want to say:
During your hearing, the judge may ask questions
The judge’s decision
At the end of the hearing, the judge will say what the orders are. The judge may:
Ask the clerk for the forms you need so you can make sure that the temporary orders (if any) are extended until the new hearing date.
See Going to Court to read more information about how to prepare for your court hearing.
If the judge issues a restraining order at the hearing, or any type of orders, you will have to prepare a written order for the judge to sign. In some courts, the clerk or other court staff will prepare this order. If so, make sure you review it very carefully to make sure it says exactly what the judge orders and the clerk did not leave anything out. If there is a problem, tell the clerk right away.
If you have to fill out the order, follow these steps:
1. Fill out the Civil Harassment Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS - CHO) (Form CH-130), which will become your “permanent” restraining order.
2. Fill out a Confidential CLETS Information (Form CLETS-001) if you have not done this already. This form does NOT get filed. It is confidential. It is used so that your restraining order can be entered into a statewide computer system that lets the police know about your order.
3. Give your Form CH-130 to the clerk (or the judge) and the judge will sign it. Make sure the clerk files it. The clerk will give you up to 5 copies.
4. Serve the restrained person with a copy of Form CH-130.
Remember, you and other protected people CANNOT serve the orders.
Your city or county may have legal aid agencies that help people ask for civil harassment restraining orders, but it usually depends on the type of abuse or harassment. For example, if you have been sexually assaulted, you may be able to get help from legal aid or a domestic violence agency. Sometimes, these agencies will also help with stalking cases. And they may help in other situations. It is hard to know whether you will qualify for help without knowing the specific situation you are in.
So, if you need a civil harassment restraining order, no matter why, first try to get help from your local legal aid agency. If they cannot help you, they may be able to send you to someone who can.
Click for help finding a legal aid agency in your area.
Your court’s self-help center may also be able to help you with the civil harassment restraining order, or refer you to someone who can.
You may also be able to get help from 1 of these links: