Respond to a Restraining Order
This section helps you figure out how to respond to a request for an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. Read the introduction to Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse
to get more information about elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders and the restraining order court process.
What Is a Restraining Order?
An elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order is a court order that helps protect someone 65 or older or a dependent adult from abuse or threats of abuse (physical, emotional, mental, or financial), threats of abuse, abandonment, abduction, or neglect.
It can order you to:
- Not contact or go near the protected person(s);
- Stay away from the protected person’s home or work, or other place he or she goes to a lot;
- Move out of the house if you live together (unless you are the only person on the lease or title of the house — or you own or rent with someone else, NOT the protected person); AND
- Not have a gun or firearm while the order is in effect.
If There Is a Restraining Order Against You
1. Read the order carefully. If you disobey the order, you can go to jail or be fined.
- Read Form EA-110 carefully. It tells you all the orders the judge has made. Make sure you stay away from all the people and places in the order.
- You CANNOT own, possess, or have a gun or firearm while the order is in effect. If you have a gun now, you have to turn it in to the police or sell it to, or store it with, a gun dealer. Read How Do I Turn in, Sell, or Store My Firearms? (Form EA-800-INFO).
2. Read How Can I Respond to a Request for Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders? (Form EA-120-INFO).
3. Go to the court hearing on the restraining order. The hearing date is on the Notice of Court Hearing (Form EA-109).
- If you do not go to court, the judge can make the restraining order without hearing your side of the story. And the order can last up to 5 years.
4. If you want to tell your side of the story, file a response (answer) BEFORE your court date.
- You can fill out and file a Response to Request for Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders (Form EA-120) where you tell the judge your side of the story about what happened.
- Even if you do not file a Response, GO TO YOUR HEARING!
You do not need a lawyer to respond to a restraining order. BUT it is a good idea to have a lawyer. Having a restraining order issued against you can have very serious consequences, so by having a lawyer you can protect your rights as best as possible. Click for help finding a lawyer.
Your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you respond to the restraining order.
IMPORTANT! If you also have a criminal case related to the abuse, stalking, or violence in this case, it is very important you talk to a lawyer. Anything you say or write in the elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order case can be used against you in your criminal case.
Answering the Restraining Order
If you decide to answer the request for the restraining order, follow these steps:
STEP 1. Fill Out Your Court Forms and Prepare to File
STEP 2. File and Serve Your Response
STEP 3. Get Ready and Go to Your Court Hearing
STEP 4. After the Court Hearing
1. Fill out your response (answer)
- Response to Request for Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders (Form EA-120); and
- Additional Page (Form MC-020), if you need more space to write.
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 family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with elder or dependent adult abuse restraining orders, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled out your Response properly.
4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the protected person. The original is for the court.
Once you have filled out your form, you have to file it with the court and “serve” (give a copy to) the protected persons. Make sure you do this before your deadline!
1. File your Response in court
Take the original and 2 copies of your form to the court clerk to file. The court clerk will keep the original and return both copies to you, stamped “Filed.” There is NO FEE for you to do this.
2. Serve the protected person with a copy of your forms.
You must get someone 18 or older (NOT YOU) to mail a copy of your Response and other papers to the protected person. The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.” The server can also hand-deliver the papers.
3. File your Proof of Service.
Have your server fill out a Proof of Service of Response by Mail (Form EA-250) and give it to you. Then, you file it with the court and keep a copy for yourself. Then, you file it with the court and keep a copy for yourself. This form tells the judge that the protected person got a copy of your Response.
Get Ready for Your Hearing
- Take 2 copies of all documents and filed forms, including the Proof of Service. If there are any documents that help your case (trying to disprove what the protected person says happened) bring those with you.
- You can take a witness to help support your case. Witnesses may or may not be allowed to speak. But you can bring a written statement of what the witness saw or heard. You must file and serve witness statements at the same time that you filed your Response (Form EA-120). If you did not have time to file them ahead of time, then bring the original plus 2 copies to your court hearing.
- If you do not speak English well and the court was not able to provide you with an interpreter, take someone to interpret for you. Do not ask a child, another protected person, or a witness to interpret for you. Get tips to help you work with a court interpreter.
- Most courtrooms do not allow children. Ask if there is a children's waiting room in the courthouse before your hearing date. If not, make sure you arrange for child care.
Do not miss your hearing!
If you miss it, the judge can make the orders without hearing from you.
Get there 30 minutes early:
- Find the courtroom.
- When the courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer that you are present.
- If the person who asked for the order is present, do NOT sit near or talk to him or her.
- Watch the other cases so you will know what to do.
- When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom.
- Your hearing may last just a few minutes or up to an hour.
Practice what you want to say in response to what the protected person said in the Request:
- Make a list of the orders you disagree with practice saying why you disagree. Do not take more than 3 minutes to say why you disagree with and what you want.
- If you get nervous at the hearing, just read from your list. Use that list to make sure you tell the judge about everything you disagree with.
Your court hearing
During your hearing, the judge may ask questions
- Tell the truth. Speak slowly. You can read from your list.
- The other person or his or her lawyer may also ask you questions.
- Give complete answers.
- If you do not understand, say "I don't understand the question."
- If the other side lies in court, wait until he or she finishes talking. Then tell the judge.
- Speak only to the judge. Do not talk to the other person unless it is your turn to ask questions.
- When people are talking to the judge, wait for them to finish. Then you can ask them questions about what they said.
- Do not sit near or talk to the other person.
The judge’s decision
At the end of the hearing, the judge will say what the orders are. The judge may:
- Give the protected person the orders he or she asked for.
- Give the protected person some of the orders he or she asked for and not others.
- Not give the protected person any of the orders he or she asked for.
- Postpone your case and give you a new court date. This means you have to come back another day. The judge can do this if:
- You need more time to get a lawyer or prepare an answer.
- The judge wants more information.
- Your hearing is taking longer than planned.
- If the judge postpones (“continues”) your case, the judge may make orders that last 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 against you at the hearing, or any type of orders, you MUST follow them. If you do not, you can be arrested.
You will be served with the Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order After Hearing (CLETS — EAR or EAF) (Form EA-130) within a few days of your court date, by mail or in person. If anything on the EA-130 form is different from what the judge ordered, talk to the court clerk right away to see what you can do. If the clerk cannot help you, talk to a lawyer right away. Or talk to your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center to see if there is anything they can help you with.
- If you were at the hearing, the protected person does not have to serve you with a copy of Form EA-130. It may be a good idea for you to get a copy of Form EA-130 from the court so that you do not forget what orders the judge made.
- If you were not at the hearing, but the judge's orders are the same as the temporary order, the protected person can serve with a copy of Form EA-130 by mail.
- If you were not at the hearing, and the judge's orders are different from the temporary order, the protected person must have someone serve you with Form EA-130 in person, not by mail.
If the judge issues a restraining order against you, you are not allowed to own, buy or try to buy a firearm. If you own one, you will have to sell it to, or store it with, a licensed gun dealer or turn it in to law enforcement, and file proof with the court. To file this proof, you can use the form Proof of Firearms Turned In, Sold, or Stored (Form EA-800). For more information on what to do, read How Do I Turn in, Sell, or Store My Firearms? (Form EA-800-INFO).
It can be difficult to find free or low cost legal help if you are responding to a request for an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. But you should still try since legal aid agencies have different guidelines, and your local bar association may have a volunteer lawyer program that can help you. Click for help finding a lawyer.
Your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you.
Batterer Intervention Program Information
You can find batterer intervention programs in your area at: California Department of Public Health Violence Prevention Resource Directory which lists help by county.
If you need a court-approved batterer intervention program, contact your county probation department.