Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
The law in California defines domestic violence as abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together). It is also when the abused person and the abusive person are closely related by blood or by marriage.
The California domestic violence laws say “abuse” is:
- Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly;
- Sexual assault;
- Making someone reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone); OR
- Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.
The physical abuse is not just hitting. Abuse can be kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, scaring or following you, or keeping you from freely coming and going. It can even include physical abuse of the family pets.
Also, the abuse does not have to be physical. Abuse can be verbal (spoken), emotional, or psychological. Often, abuse takes many forms, and abusers use a combination of tactics to control and have power over the person being abused.
Read more about domestic violence here.
WHAT TYPES OF SERVICES DOES THE PROJECT PROVIDE?
We help people in domestic violence restraining order and elder abuse cases to prepare and file their court paperwork. We also give legal information about the court process, connect people with community services, such as legal services, shelters, victim assistance and counseling. All Project services are free.
AM I ELIGIBLE TO GET HELP FROM THE PROJECT?
If you would like help with a domestic violence or elder abuse restraining order case, you are eligible. All Project services are free regardless of your income.
DO I HAVE TO PAY TO ASK THE COURT FOR A RESTRAINING ORDER?
No. There is no court fee for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FILE FOR A RESTRAINING ORDER?
When the courthouse is open to the public, generally litigants have their request filed and received their order all in one day; but the process can take several hours. During the pandemic when the courthouse is closed to the public, all services are done remotely by telephone and email and the process can take 1 to 3 days.
IF I ASK FOR A RESTRAINING ORDER, WILL I HAVE TO GO TO A COURT HEARING?
The court can make a temporary restraining order (TRO) without a hearing. The TRO lasts for 21 days. If you want to ask the court to make a longer order (up to 5 years), yes you will need to go to a court hearing. Note that the restrained person has a right to attend that hearing and tell their side of the story.
WILL I HAVE TO TELL THE RESTRAINED PERSON ABOUT THE ORDER?
A restraining order cannot be enforced against a restrained person until they have been served with the order. If you want the restraining order to last more than 21 days, you will need to “serve” the restrained person with the order and notice of hearing. For more information about service of court papers, please click here.
ARE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDER CASES CONFIDENTIAL?
No. Domestic violence restraining order cases are public record. Any documents you file with the court can be obtained and copied by any member of the public using the court’s procedures. Restraining order hearings are also generally open to the public.
DOES THE PROJECT HELP WITH CHILD CUSTODY CASES?
We only help people in restraining order cases. If the parties to a domestic violence restraining order have children together, we can help them ask the court to make custody orders as part of the restraining order.
WHAT IF I WANT AN ATTORNEY TO APPEAR IN COURT WITH ME?
LACBA Domestic Violence Project does not provide attorneys to appear in court with you for your hearing. We provide referrals to other agencies that may be able to assist with legal representation. If you can pay for an attorney, please call Lawyer Referral Service by telephone (213) 243-1525. Ask for their Middle Income Program!
HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR THE PROJECT?
Volunteers are asked to volunteer a minimum of six hours per month, for a period of seven months. Volunteers need to be computer literate and be able to work comfortably on a one-on-one basis with victims of violence. Volunteers are usually attorneys, paralegals, or law students. Please click here for our volunteer application form.
For more information contact Project Director Diane Trunk by email.
Follow the Domestic Violence Legal Services Project