“What Does It Take To Get A Family Law Restraining Order Renewed?”

Family law restraining orders can be renewed upon application to the court that issued the order. The request must be filed within the three months before the expiration of the order, and there will be a hearing set to consider the issues.

In the past, a restraining order would be renewed only if there had been violations of the order during the time the restraining order was in place, or if the initial events were so bad that they justified it. (For instance, I obtained a renewal simply on application in a case where the restraining order was based on an attempted murder conviction against my client—the court did not require any additional evidence, due to the seriousness of the initial events.)

However, there is recent case law that has changed this in two key ways.

First, a California court held that the key consideration when deciding whether to renew or not is whether or not the protected party has a “reasonable fear of future abuse.” This means, it is not just the type or timing of the abuse (how recent or how serious) but instead whether or not the protected party still has a reasonable fear of abuse which will be considered. Perez v. Torres-Hernandez, 1 Cal. App. 5th 389 (2016). This means that even if there have been no incidents after the restraining order was granted, if the protected party still reasonably believes that there is a danger of abuse, the court can grant the renewal. This is a much lowered standard from the past and it is unclear exactly how it will be applied on a local level.

Second, a California court found that a renewal should be issued where the background facts are a long pattern of abuse or violent conduct. This ruling actually changed the standard to be applied: the court had to look not at whether there were any new actions, but instead on whether anything had changed in the circumstances which would mean a restraining order was no longer necessary. This is a key ruling because it essentially puts the burden on the party who is restrained to show changes that mean a restraining order is not necessary. Cueto v. Dozier, 241 Cal.App.4th 550.

As you can see, both of these recent changes make the likelihood of a renewal go up as the law continues to shift towards making restraining orders easier to get and easier to renew.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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