A restraining order is a legal order issued by a court that directs one person to refrain from certain activities or behaviors toward another person. The purpose of a restraining order is typically to protect the victim from threats, harassment, abuse, or violence by restricting the actions of the person causing harm.

The order is ideal for those who feel threatened by anyone around them. There may be situations where they believe there is a high likelihood of another person harming them.

There are different types of restraining orders. The sections below explore this concept.

Types of restraining orders

Restraining orders are also called protective orders and are generally filed at the local courthouse. Where a restraining order is filed depends on the state.

In some states, a restraining order may have to be filed in a family court. There are no charges associated with the filing of a restraining order.

There are several types of restraining orders that can be issued. They are listed below.

Emergency domestic violence protective orders

This order is issued by the police. It’s a temporary order that is issued when the court is not open or if someone is in immediate danger. These orders expire in a couple of days. Not all states issue this order.

Temporary domestic violence protective orders

Temporary orders can be issued in civil or criminal cases.

In a civil case, a person files the order at the clerk’s office. An ex parte court hearing is held, where only the person who filed the order provides testimony. If the court finds the claim valid, a temporary protection order is issued. The court will direct law enforcement to serve the order.

The court then issues a notice to both parties for a full hearing. The temporary order remains in effect until the outcome of the full hearing is decided.

In a criminal case, the victim or law enforcement can file an order with the court clerk. The court will issue a temporary order after a hearing. The court can modify or terminate the order at any time, during the hearing, or up to the case’s conclusion.

Domestic violence protective orders

This order is issued after a full court hearing. At the full court hearing, both parties testify and offer evidence. The order is granted if the court finds good cause supporting the domestic violence claim.

The court decides the terms of the order, which is then served by law enforcement. A final hearing for a domestic violence protection order may last several years and can be renewed on request. The order is valid even if the criminal case is terminated.

Restraining orders are valid across state lines. It is illegal to cross state lines to violate the terms of the order. If these orders are violated, one could be fined or incarcerated under civil or criminal law.

Filing a restraining order

Depending on which state you live in, the requirements for who can file a restraining order changes. Generally, restraining orders can be filed by immediate family members or those in intimate relationships with the accused. This includes

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • People in live-in relationships
  • People in same-sex relationships
  • Family members related by blood or marriage, such as 
    • Step-children
    • Grandparents
    • Other family members

In some states, this also applies to people who are dating. This includes people who may not be married or have children.

Minors can also file for a restraining order, but this requires the presence of an adult, such as an aunt or grandparent.


Being at the receiving end of a restraining order for any reason, especially domestic abuse, can be scary and nerve-wracking. Be aware of your rights, and contact a competent lawyer to help you through this situation. The consequences of a domestic violence charge are serious. Don’t risk it. Seek legal help now!