Today, restraining orders work across state lines. If someone has a valid restraining order in one state and then travels or moves to a new state, they do not need to get an entirely new order. The person protected by the order simply has to register the existing order with the court or police department in their new state and it will take effect immediately.
For example, if someone obtains a restraining order in Florida, and then moves to California, they need only bring a certified copy of the order to a California court, along with a registration form. Then, the Clerk of the Court in California will register the order with the state’s computer system. That way, law enforcement agencies throughout the state are aware of its existence.
When trying to obtain a restraining order, it is always important to keep in mind that it is a two-stage process. In the first stage, the person seeking protection first obtains a temporary restraining order, which has effect usually for a very limited period of time, usually 10 to 30 days depending on the court and the state. The preliminary order or injunction is limited in time because it is issued without notice to the person who is subject to the order.
A court must have a hearing in which both parties can participate and argue either for or against issuance of the order. Only after such a hearing can the court issue a permanent restraining order. Keep in mind that courts can assign a period of time for a permanent order, so it may not last forever. In Texas, for example, a restraining order can only last for two years. So a protected person may need to renew a restraining order if it expires and the person believes that it is still necessary to have one.
Do Restraining Orders Remain Valid While Visiting Other States?
It can be challenging, if not impossible, to get a restraining order for someone in another state, or an out-of-state restraining order. The problem is that a court in one state may not have what is known as “personal jurisdiction” over a person who lives in another state. Basically this means that the court in one state has no legal justification for asserting its authority over a person who lives in another state. So a protected person may need to renew a restraining order if it expires and the person believes that it is still necessary to have one.
Some possible set of facts which may justify a court in asserting its authority over a person who resides in another state are as follows:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to the state in which the person seeking the order lives because the abuser regularly travels to the state to visit the person or for some other reason. It could be that the abuser used to live in the state but recently left;
- An act of abuse took place in the state in which the person seeking the order resides. Or, the abuser may have sent the person threatening emails, texts or made threatening phone calls to the person who seeks the order. So a judge could decide that the abuse “happened” in the state where the threatening communications were received.
- If a person files their petition for a restraining order and has it served on the abuser while the abuser is in the state, then the court has jurisdiction over the abuser.
However, once a person has a valid restraining order in one state and then moves to a new state, they do not need to get an entirely new order. The restraining order issued by the court in the state where the protected person used to live still is effective in the state to which the protected person moves. The person simply has to register the existing order with the court or police department in their new state, so the police are aware of it and can enforce it if necessary.
In addition, the police can enter it into the state’s statewide domestic violence computer system. Then law enforcement agencies throughout the state know of its existence and are better positioned to enforce it, if necessary.
Also, a valid restraining order is valid everywhere in the United States, and the named party will be protected by it wherever they may travel in the country. This is due to a section of the Constitution called the Full Faith and Credit Clause. If someone is concerned that they may not receive protection from a restraining order if they are traveling to another state, they should keep a copy of the restraining order with them to show to police in the event they should need to ask the police to enforce it. This would mean keeping it on your person or in your purse or backpack or the glove compartment of your car, ready at hand.
So, for example, if a person has a valid restraining order issued by a Florida court and the person moves to California, the person can have the restraining order entered into California’s restraining order computer system. When the order has been entered into the California computer system, then law enforcement agents throughout the state can locate and read the order if the protected person should need to call on them for enforcement of it. A person can also register the order with their local courthouse. Once the court registers the order, the clerk of the court sends it to the state’s computer system.
If the judge in the state where a person seeking protection cannot issue an order because the abuser lives in another state and the judge has no basis in fact for asserting jurisdiction over the abuser, the person seeking protection can file for an order in the court in the state and locality where the abuser lives. However, this might present other difficulties because the person seeking protection would have to file the petition for the order in person and attend court hearings, which could be challenging and costly if the state where the abuser lives is far away. Still, it is an option.
Can a Restraining Order Force Someone to Move?
In cases involving domestic violence, elder abuse or the abuse of a dependent adult, a court can order an abuser to move out of the place where the person who is protected by the order lives. So-called “residence exclusion” (or “kick-out” or “move-out”) orders tell the restrained person to move out of the residence where the protected person lives and to take only clothing and personal belongings.
For example, in the state of Mississippi, a restraining order can give the protected person possession of the home and order the abuser to leave it. The restraining order can give the protected person the right to return to their home if they left it in order to escape abuse (or for any other reason). The restraining order can require the abuser to provide the protected person with suitable, alternate housing, if the abuser has a duty to support the protected person and their children, and is the sole owner of the home that has been shared with the protected person.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Move or Travel to a New State with a Restraining Order?
If you are thinking of moving and need a restraining order, it would be best if you consulted an experienced family law lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer for advice as to how to proceed. A lawyer can help you analyze the facts of your situation and determine in which state it would be best for you to seek a restraining order. The residence of the person from whom a person is seeking protection might also be a factor in your decision.
If interstate travel is an issue for you or if the person from whom you are seeking protection lives in another state, your case could become complicated, so you should seek out the advice of an experienced family law or criminal defense lawyer.