Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

This video is also available in Spanish. Please note: Some addresses included in this video may be out-of-date. Please verify locations before visiting. Family Law matters in Central San Diego are processed on the 4th floor of the Central Courthouse located at 1100 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Taking Steps for Your Safety
The time while leaving or when you have recently left an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time. Take this opportunity to learn more about how you can increase your safety. There are advocates, emergency safe shelters, and other services available throughout San Diego County to help during this critical time.

A restraining order is a court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by an abuser. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
  4. Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be illegal such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail, telephone, or otherwise disturbing the peace of the other party.

To obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order you MUST have, or have had, a close personal relationship with the party you are asking to have restrained. Under the law, a relationship is defined as "close" if at least one of the following is true:

  • You are married or were formerly married to the other party.
  • You have or formerly had an engagement or dating relationship with the other party.
  • You and the other party have a child or children together.
  • You are related to the other party by blood, marriage or adoption, e.g., (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children).
  • You and the other party are living together, or formerly lived together, as members of a "household."

The restraining order can include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the abuser; orders for the abuser to stay away from the victim's home/work and/or children's school; orders for the abuser to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders and other miscellaneous orders.

How to File for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

To apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order you may obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order packet from the business offices at these San Diego Superior Court locations: Central Courthouse, North County Courthouse, East County Courthouse, South County Courthouse. NOTE: Packets are NOT available at the Hall of Justice or Kearny Mesa. Packets are also available online: Domestic Violence - Restraining Order Applicant Packet and Domestic Violence - Restraining Order with Children Packet. Please fill out the appropriate forms packet as completely as possible before coming to court. Instructions are included with the packets and requests for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders are now accepted via e-Filing.

There are free self-help services available to assist you with the application. See clinics below.

You may be eligible for a free attorney through the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act.

Civil Harassment Restraining Order

A victim who is a target of abuse but does not have the necessary relationship to the batterer may file a civil harassment restraining order. Learn more about civil harassment restraining orders, which can be filed in the Civil Business Offices.

Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order

An elder/dependent adult abuse restraining order applies to a person seeking a protective order who falls within the definition of elder or dependent adult as follows:

A person who is 65 years of age or older (elder) OR a person who is between 18 and 64 years of age and who has mental or physical limitations that prevent them from carrying out their normal activities (dependent adult), who has been a victim of one or more of the following:

  • Physical, financial, mental or emotional abuse;
  • Neglect, abandonment, abduction, or isolation;
  • Treatment that has caused physical harm or pain or mental suffering; OR
  • Deprived by a caregiver of goods or services needed to avoid harm or suffering.

Can You Answer Yes?

  1. Are you over the age of 65 and being abused?
  2. Is someone physically abusing you or causing you emotional harm?
  3. Is someone who helps you with the daily necessities of life threatening to hurt you?
  4. Is someone who helps you with the daily necessities of life misusing your money?
  5. Is an elder you know being abused?

Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse restraining orders are filed in the Civil Business Office locations. For a list of forms and additional information on Elder Abuse, visit the California Courts Self Help Center website. For assistance on filing an Elder Abuse Restraining Order, please refer to the Civil Harassment Restraining Order Clinics.


Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics

There are domestic violence clinics available throughout the county available to assist you with the preparation of the forms required to obtain a restraining order. Legal services organizations provide the following clinics.

Regional Center Location
Central 4th Floor, Room 417
East County Family Law Business Office
North County Adjacent to Civil Business Office
South County 1st Floor

San Diego Family Justice Center: Offers assistance with the restraining order application in a comfortable, safe setting in downtown San Diego, while also offering a full array of wrap-around services such as advocacy, counseling, legal services and more.

One Safe Place -The North County Family Justice Center: Offers assistance with the restraining order application in a comfortable, safe setting in San Marcos, while also offering a full array of wrap-around services such as advocacy, counseling, legal services and more.

If the domestic violence clinics are unable to serve you, Family Law Facilitators are available at all locations to assist you with paperwork. Assistance is provided on a first come, first served basis and appointments are not available. Be prepared to spend a minimum of one-half of a day to a full day at the courthouse to obtain your restraining order.

There is NO FEE to apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.

Things to bring with you when you complete your Restraining Order paperwork, if available:

  • The address for the person you would like restrained
  • Date of birth for the person you would like restrained
  • Physical description of the person you would like restrained
  • Photographs of any injuries
  • Police report

Topics discussed regarding domestic violence may not be appropriate for minor children. While child care facilities are available at each courthouse, space is limited. If you have minor children, you are encouraged to make other child care arrangements.

What is the "Safe at Home" program?

A victim-survivor of domestic violence may apply for a Safe at Home program, which is run by the Secretary of State's office in California.

The Safe At Home program will give you a substitute mailing address to use on official documents, including:

  • your court papers
  • your driver's license
  • your voter registration papers, and,
  • if you decide to get married while on the program, your address will remain confidential on those documents as well.

Any first-class or government mail sent to you at that address will be forwarded within 48 hours.

  • Any Service of Process delivered to the address also will be passed on to you.
  • If you follow the rules, you can use the address for up to four (4) years.

For more information about enrolling in this no-cost mail forwarding service, call the program toll-free at 1-877-322-5227 or you can go to the California Secretary of State's website.

One Safe Place - The North County Family Justice Center

The North County Family Justice Center offers assistance with restraining orders and legal consults in the comfort and safety of our center for those victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder abuse, child abuse or other related trauma. One Safe Place provides assistance in your language, can file required paperwork for you and welcome you into their remote courtroom to appear for your hearing. Additionally, they provide wrap-around services for victims and their families such as emergency housing, food, clothing, therapy, benefits eligibility assistance, pet care and more.
Address: 1050 Los Vallecitos Blvd. San Marcos, CA 92069
Phone: 760-290-3690

Hotlines and Services to Assist Domestic Violence Victims

San Diego Regional Domestic Violence Resource Guide

San Diego Regional Domestic Violence Phone List
Lista de teléfonos regionales de violencia doméstica de San Diego

For homeless shelters, housing, food, health insurance resources and more contact: 211 San Diego: call 2-1-1 or visit

24/7 Domestic Violence Hotlines

YWCA of San Diego County (Becky’s House) (Central) 24/7 (619) 234-3164
Center for Community Solutions 24/7 (888) 385-4657
Community Resource Center (North County) 24/7 (877) 633-1112
Women’s Resource Center (North County) 24/7 (760) 757-3500
SBCS (South County) 24/7 (800) 640-2933

Other Domestic Violence Resources

San Diego County DA’s Office – Victim Assistance Advocates (619) 431-4041
San Diego Family Justice Center (866) 933-4673
One Safe Place - The North County Family Justice Center (760) 290-3690
Salvation Army-Door of Hope (858) 279-1100
Interfaith Shelter Network – El Nido (619) 563-9878
Crisis House (619) 444-1194
Jewish Family Services – Project Sarah (858) 637-3210
Rady Chadwick Center for Children and Families (858) 966-5803
License to Freedom (immigrants/refugees experiencing DV) (619) 401-2800
Rancho Coastal Humane Society (safe pet shelter for DV victims) (760) 753-6413

Legal Services

City Attorney Domestic Violence Unit (619) 533-5544
District Attorney Domestic Violence Unit (619) 531-4300
Center for Community Solutions (858) 272-1574
YWCA Legal Advocacy Program (619) 239-0355 x204
Legal Aid Society (877) 534-2524
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (619) 235-5656
YWCA San Diego County

(619) 239-2341

San Diego Family Justice Center

(619) 533-6000

National Resources:

National Domestic Violence Holine/Chat:

  • Multiple languages available 24/7 and confidential
  • 1-800-799-7233 / TTY 1-800-787-3224

Futures Without Violence:

Love Is Respect: