What to expect at a DVRO hearing


If you are the victim of domestic violence, you might need to seek a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) from the courts. This order provides legal protections, as it can prohibit your abuser from seeing you or even contacting you, among other things. Having a DVRO in place can give you greater peace of mind that you and your children can be safe.

On the other hand, if you are accused of domestic violence, a restraining order can restrict your life and liberty in many ways. You might have to move residences, might have to stay away from your kids, forfeit any firearms, and much more. You want to defend against a restraining order whenever possible.

Whether you are seeking or fighting a DVRO, the hearing is a critical event. You want a California domestic violence attorney on your side in court.

What is the DVRO hearing?

A domestic violence victim might be able to obtain an emergency order from the court without the accused being involved. However, for an extended DVRO, the court holds a hearing and allows the accused to present arguments in their defense. If you are petitioning for a restraining order, be prepared to see your accused abuser in court.

If you are served notice of a hearing for a DVRO against you, never ignore it. If you fail to appear at the hearing, the judge can issue the order against you without getting your side of the story. This might make you subject to serious restrictions for one to five years, depending on the circumstances of the case.

If the party who requested the DVRO does not appear at the hearing, the case will likely be dismissed, and the judge will likely terminate any existing temporary restraining orders.

What happens at the hearing?

At your hearing, both parties will be able to present their testimony and arguments with help from their attorneys. The parties may or may not present other witnesses to support their arguments for or against the DVRO. After hearing all the testimony and evidence, the judge can make one of the following decisions:

  • Grant the requested restraining order
  • Grant an order with some protections but not all
  • Deny the requested order altogether
  • Postpone the matter until a new court date to get additional information, allow one party to obtain an attorney, or for other reasons

If the case is not resolved and it is postponed, a temporary restraining order might remain in place in the meantime. You want a lawyer to represent you – no matter what side of the case you are on.

DVRO Hearings vs. Criminal Assault Cases

In many situations, a DVRO case coincides with a criminal assault case. This is because an alleged victim might have called the police, who might have arrested the accused abuser. If there were criminal charges issued, the case is usually still pending when the DVRO hearing takes place.

A criminal case and a DVRO hearing are two separate matters. Just because someone obtains a DVRO does not mean that the prosecutor will obtain a criminal conviction. On the other hand, just because a criminal case is dismissed does not mean the DVRO hearing will also be canceled.

However, always keep in mind that prosecutors or defense lawyers can use anything you say at a DVRO hearing as evidence in the criminal trial. Always go over everything with your domestic violence attorney to ensure that you do not say anything that can later hurt another case.

DVRO Hearings and Divorce

Many domestic violence allegations lead to a divorce filing, and the DVRO outcome can impact a divorce case in certain situations. You will not have to prove – or disprove – domestic violence to get divorced in a no-fault state, but the accusations can play a role when it comes to resolving child custody and support matters.

Courts consider many factors when resolving issues in a divorce, including the incidence of domestic violence and the existence of a DVRO. If you obtain a DVRO against your spouse, it might give you an advantage when obtaining child custody, depending on your situation. It can also make it more difficult or impossible for a spouse convicted of domestic violence to receive spousal support. Always seek assistance from an attorney with experience handling divorce cases involving DVRO hearings and domestic violence allegations.

Never ignore notice of a DVRO hearing. Instead, immediately seek the legal representation you need – whether you are seeking or defending against the restraining order.