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How Do I Extend a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

Two men and a woman sitting across from each other with a table between them. The table has a closed laptop on it.

You applied for and were granted a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order against your spouse or significant other. After a hearing, the Court awarded you a permanent restraining order, which can last up to five years. You endured a difficult and grueling process, but a rewarding one that provided you with protection and, importantly, some peace of mind.

But what happens when the period for which the restraining order is set to last ends? Does it expire?

The short answer is “yes”. So, the question then becomes:

“How do I extend—or renew—my permanent restraining order?”

The California Legislature has implemented statutes that do allow for restraining order renewals. The purpose of this blog is to offer helpful answers to the “what, when, where, and how” questions you may have about the restraining order renewal process.


Q: What does it take to renew my restraining order?

A: If the restrained party opposes the renewal request, you must show by a preponderance of the evidence that you have a reasonable apprehension of future abusive conduct from the restrained party. In other words, from an objective (reasonable) standpoint, you fear or have anxiety that something will happen (apprehension) that involves the restrained party abusing you after the restraining order expires (future abusive conduct).

As to what is “reasonable”, California Appellate caselaw states that “the court must find the probability of future abuse is sufficient that a reasonable [person] in the same circumstances would have a ‘reasonable apprehension’ such abuse will occur unless the court issues a protective order.” Ritchie v. Konrad, 115 Cal. App. 4th 1275, 1288 (2004).

Q: What determines if my apprehension of future abusive conduct is “reasonable”?

A: The evidence must demonstrate that “it is more probable than not there is sufficient risk of future abuse to find the protected party’s apprehension is genuine and reasonable.” Ritchie at 1290.

man making a fist while distressed woman is sitting on a couch

The court will look to the evidence and findings that led to the initial restraining order in determining whether a risk of future abuse exists if the existing restraining order expires. While the facts on which the initial restraining order was based will not conclusively show that a renewal is warranted, those facts—and their level of severity or seriousness—are still relevant to the court’s analysis.

Another potentially relevant consideration is whether there are any changes in circumstances since the issuance of the initial permanent restraining order. Have you or the restrained party moved a significant distance away from one another? Is there evidence to show the restrained party has moved on with his or her life such that the likelihood of future abuse is low? Conversely, have the circumstances changed such that the likelihood of future abuse has increased?

The Court will also look into whether or how the restrained party would be burdened by a restraining order renewal. Beyond the mere social stigma that attaches itself to a permanent restraining order, a renewal of a permanent restraining order may color the perspective of the restrained party’s employer as well as prospective employers. When minor children are involved, a permanent restraining order granted and renewed as to the protected party “may have a collateral effect of limiting the restrained party’s access to his (or her) children even when they are not potential targets of abuse.” Ritchie at 1291.

Q: How long can I request that the restraining order renewal last?

A: Your permanent restraining order may be renewed either for five or more years, or permanently.


Q: Do I need to show that the restrained party violated the permanent restraining order in order to get it renewed for longer?

A: No. California Family Code § 6345(a) specifically states that one may request a renewal “without a showing of further abuse since the issuance of the original order.” Of course, a showing of restraining order violations can certainly aid you in showing to the court that you have a reasonable apprehension that future abusive conduct.

Q: When and how do I make a request to renew my restraining order?

A: The code provides that the request may be made at any time within the three months prior to the expiration of the orders.

The request is made by filing a Request for Order with the Court. Our experienced California divorce attorneys at Cage & Miles are eager and ready to assist you in renewing your restraining order and helping you maintain the protection and peace of mind that you deserve.

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