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What will a restraining order tell your spouse to do?

Before filing for a restraining order against your husband or wife, you probably want to know what it's going to tell your spouse to do. This piece of paper is designed to protect you -- and your children -- and it does this in a few ways. Typically, the California State Bar says that a restraining order:

-- Will tell your spouse to keep a specific physical distance between the two of you. This could be 100 yards, for example, or the length of a standard football field. This keeps you safe in your home or apartment and prevents further physical abuse.

-- Will say that the person cannot call you. This is done so that emotional abuse is not carried out over the phone, and it's done to help lower tensions in the situation. Your spouse may be angry that you asked for the order in the first place, and talking on the phone could just make things worse.

-- Will instruct your spouse not to contact you by any other means. This includes electronic communications, like text messages and emails. It could also include physical letters that are sent through the postal system. In the modern day, the order may include a stipulation saying that your spouse can't contact you through social media, with sites like Facebook and Twitter.

You have to ask the court to get you a standard restraining order, which can take time. However, when danger is imminent, you can sometimes get an Emergency Protective Order that is given out by a judicial official who is on call. If you've called 911, the police will know how to get the order for you.

Domestic violence must be taken seriously, and it's important to know how these orders work and what realistic protections they provide.

Source: State Bar of California, "Can The Law Help Protect Me From Domestic Violence?," accessed July 19, 2016

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