What are the Most Common Types of Restraining Orders?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2020
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Restraining orders help prevent contact between two people in a volatile situation. Domestic or elder abuse, workplace harassment, and stalking are all common reasons for a restraining order. There are several different types of restraining orders, including domestic, civil, and dependent adult orders. Orders may also be broken down by length of effectiveness, and not all orders may be available in all areas. Experts often advise any person who is being abused or believes that he or she might be in danger from another person to contact law enforcement immediately.

Depending on the type of restraining order used, the length of effectiveness may be an important component. Three major types include emergency or incident-driven, temporary, or permanent. Emergency orders often last for five to seven days, and may be automatically invoked following a report of domestic violence. They are often meant to provide a “cooling off” period between domestic partners, and allow police to sort through a domestic incident with less chance of a second abuse complaint.


Temporary and permanent restraining orders are typically more involved, and may be imposed automatically or at the request of one or both parties. Temporary orders typically last until a formal hearing can be scheduled, in order to give the victim some safety in the meantime; divorcing spouses are often placed under temporary restraining orders until their divorce trial is finished. Permanent restraining orders are usually given following a trial, and are usually a result of a situation where the threat to privacy or safety is deemed to be an ongoing problem that is unlikely to change.

Domestic restraining orders prevent contact or harassment between family members or romantic partners. These are one of the most common types of orders, and may be emergency, temporary, or permanent, depending on the situation. Like all restraining orders, they may provide protection from a variety of things, including phone, email, or personal contact; access to personal property; or the removal of minor children from their primary state of residence.

Civil harassment orders are used for people who do not have a direct family or romantic link to their harasser. Stalking cases usually involve this type of order, but warring roommates or work colleagues may also fall into this category. Civil harassment orders may be invoked because of threats, verbal, sexual, or physical harassment, or violence of any kind.

Elder abuse or dependent adult restraining orders are meant to help protect the elderly from abuse by their families or caretakers. In some regions, filing for this type of restraining order is free, and may even come with the promise of legal assistance. In places where this type of restraining order does not exist, the elderly may still file restraining orders under domestic or civil harassment grounds.


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