If You Are Being Abused

Call The Cops!

If you are being physically assaulted by a person in your home, before you call an attorney, a friend, your priest, your personal trainer, your mother or anyone else, CALL THE POLICE!

Of course we would be happy to represent you, and would appreciate it if you called us for a free consultation at (661) 327-2531, but if you are being abused, before you call us, CALL THE POLICE!

This point cannot be over-emphasized enough.  It is sad that many people are hesitant to involve law enforcement in domestic violence issues, but if someone is hitting you, it is wrong and it is illegal.  As a law firm, we can give you aggressive representation, but to stop an aggressor,  you should 
CALL THE POLICE

If the abuser is in jail, he won't be abusing you.  Don't allow anyone to continue hitting you.
 

Get Away from the Abuser

Do not stay with the abuser.

Go to a friend's house, go to a relatives house, go to a shelter... don't stay in the house with the abuser.  If you decide to return to the house, get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) before you return.

A Temporary Restraining Order is a court order to the abuser that he or she must stay away and stop abusing.  A TRO is a good tool to prevent further acts of abuse, but it is not an impenetrable shield.  If you believe the abuser will not obey a TRO, do not stay alone where he or she can find you.

How do I get a Temporary Restraining Order?

The Judicial Council of California has published a booklet on the subject.  The Kern County Superior Court can provide you with a copy.  Their address is 1415 Truxtun Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93301.  Just go to Department 111 and ask for a copy.

You can download a copy in PDF format by clicking <<here>>  However, the document is 99 pages long, so the file is very large.

Can't read PDF?  Download the free reader <<here>>

What forms are needed for a Temporary Restraining Order?

An Application and Declaration for Order is the form you use to tell a magistrate who you want restrained and why.

If the magistrate approves your request for a Temporary Restraining Order, he will sign your Order to Show Cause and Temporary Restraining Order.

You must also attach a blank Responsive Declaration to Order to Show Cause.  This form is for the alleged abuser to use to refute your allegations of abuse.

A Proof of Service is used to show that someone personally delivered copies of the documents to the person you wish restrained.

What should be done with the forms?

The forms need to be fill out neatly.  With few exceptions, the forms must be typed.

If you are not related to the person by marriage or blood, it is possible to fill out the the forms yourself or have a paralegal do it for you.  Do not seek advice from a paralegal: it is illegal and often the advice is wrong.  Also, if you do fill out the forms yourself or use a paralegal, you will not be represented when you go to court. As as attorney fees are often recoverable from an abuser (see below) it is usually best to have an attorney represent you.

If you prepare the documents yourself, make four copies.  Save one copy for your records and take the other three to the Family Law counter at the Kern County Superior Court to have them signed by a magistrate.  The clerk will take the copies and instruct you when to return to retrieve them. 

Once a magistrate has signed the forms, two copies will be returned to you.  One copy is for your records.  Someone over 18 years old, who is not a party to the restraining order, must personally give the other copy to the restrained person and then fill out the Proof of Service form and return it to the court.

What Happens in Court?

Your attorney will argue your case and may call witnesses or present other evidence.  If you do not have an attorney, you must argue your own case and subpoena necessary witnesses and evidence.

How Much Does it Cost?

There is no simple answer, but the chart below can be used for  general guidelines of how much an attorney might charge.
 

Uncontested* Contested**
Restraining Order against unrelated person $1,000-$2,000 $2,000-$3,000
Restraining Order and divorce 
no property or children involved
$1,500-$2,500 $2,500-$5,000
Restraining Order and divorce
with property but no children involved
$2,000-$3,000 $3,000-$6,000
Restraining Order and divorce
with property and children involved
$3,500-$5,000 $4,000-$7,500
Restraining order and divorce with
no property but children involved
$2,500-$4,000 $3,500-$6,000
Restraining order for unmarried persons
with child custody involved
$2,000-$3,000 $3,000-$5,000

These costs may be recoverable from the restrained person.  If the court finds that the person has acted violently without reason or provocation, that person will usually be ordered to pay attorney fees and costs.  In other words, it is very possible that the abuser will be ordered to pay all of your attorney fees and costs.

*Uncontested means the person you wish to have restrained does not oppose the terms of the requested restraining order or any other requested orders.
**Contested does not include the cost of depositions, filing fees, investigator fees or other fees.  These are general ranges only.  A person has the ability to greatly increase the cost of litigation for both parties by frivolous motions, requests for continuances and other tactics.

How Can I Keep the Costs Down?

Don't sweat the small stuff.  It often happens that a restrained person will try to "push his luck" with a restraining order.  The restrained person will sometimes telephone, drive by, or leave notes.  Don't call your attorney and complain - his sympathy has an hourly rate.  Call the police, file a report and send the report with an explanation letter to your attorney.

Compromise. If she agrees to all of the terms of the restraining order, but refuses to admit that she ever bopped you with a frying pan, accept the order without the finding.  A restraining order should not be used as a soap box to tell the world how evil she is.  A restraining order is meant to prevent further acts of domestic violence.  Use a restraining order for its intended purpose.

Don't Fight a Mutual Order.  Often the restrained person will ask for a mutual stay-away order.  If you never want to see this person again, does it matter if you are restrained from visiting their house?  If you both stay away from each other, the purpose is fulfilled.  It is often best if you can avoid court by stipulating to a mutual order.
 
 
 



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