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Obtaining Restraining Orders

Restraining Order Lawyer In a Connecticut Divorce

Westport Divorce Attorneys Help Spouses File Connecticut Restraining Orders

If you are dealing with a domestic conflict that you fear may become violent, you have the right to legal protection. Depending on your situation, there are remedies, like Restraining Orders, that our family law attorneys at Needle|Cuda can pursue for your. We are committed to the safety of our clients. We respond quickly to any emergencies to help you get the order that is appropriate for your circumstances. If you believe you are currently experiencing an emergency where your life or health is being immediately threatened, you should call 911.

Westport Family Lawyers Explain the Difference between Restraining Orders and Civil Protection Orders in Connecticut Divorce

Order of Protection (Criminal Court) relate to third parties (not family or household members)

A “Restraining Order” describes any court order that prohibits one person from coming into contact with another. Sometimes this order may be called an Order for Relief from Abuse.  Such an order can be issued by a criminal or family court.  In Connecticut, a criminal court issues what is called an Order of Protection, usually after an arrest, which prohibits the defendant from having contact with the complaining citizen for the duration of the criminal case.

Restraining Orders sought in Family Court must involve a family or household member

A family court restraining order, however, is available only to persons who fear violence, stalking or a pattern of threatening by a family or household member or someone with whom they have been in a cohabiting or dating relationship. The process begins with an application for a Ex Parte Restraining Order, or TRO, which is first addressed based on the papers submitted and then the court can enter additional orders granting or denying it after a hearing.

Connecticut law also provides for a civil order of protection for victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse and stalking. These orders are available to people who cannot request a restraining order because they do not have a qualifying relationship with the targeted person.

Enforcing Restraining Orders in a Connecticut Divorce?

In our family law practice, we often help clients obtain restraining orders. To seek such relief, you start by filing a set of forms in family court that includes:

  • Application for relief from abuse
  • Affidavit for relief from abuse
  • Request for nondisclosure of location information
  • Restraining order service respondent profile
  • Affidavit concerning children

A judge then decides based on the paperwork that is filed whether to issue an Ex Parte Restraining Order and what restraints should be included in it.  Restraining orders can compel the targeted person to:

  • Refrain from approaching you at home, at work, or in public;
  • Refrain from contacting you by phone, text or email;
  • Refrain from physically assaulting or threatening you;
  • Vacate a residence you share;
  • Stay away from your children, despite custody or visitation rights;
  • Surrender firearms to authorities;

If you are financially dependent on the targeted person, you can also request an order of maintenance requiring him or her to pay child support, rent, utilities and other expenses.

What happens when Restraining Orders are filed?

When the judge issues a temporary restraining order, a hearing date is set so that the targeted person has an opportunity to respond.  That hearing must happen within seven to 14 days. At the hearing, the judge listens to the case presented by both sides.  The judge will then decide whether to extend the restraining orders, deny the restraining order or modify the restraining order.  An extension of a restraining order is initially limited to a maximum of one year, but you may request an extension as the expiration date approaches.

Contact our Westport, CT family law attorneys for help with the filing and enforcement of restraining orders.

Needle|Cuda in Fairfield County helps clients obtain and enforce family violence restraining orders throughout Connecticut. We provide highly responsive service and effective representation focused on positive results. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 203-557-9500 or contact our Westport office online.

Ex Parte Restraining Order – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

An emergency ex parte application for custody is an application that is filed with the court asking for an order to be issued without a full-hearing on the issue, based only on the representations included in an affidavit attached to the application. It is only used in extreme situations when imminent physical or psychological danger threatens the physical and/or emotional safety and welfare of a child or children. If the judge issues an emergency ex parte order based on the application, the judge will schedule a hearing where both parties have the opportunity to appear within 14 days and the other party must be served at least 5 days before that hearing.

Even if the application is denied, the judge will enter a hearing date for the underlying allegations and claims for relief sought in the ex parte application.

Emergency ex parte applications for custody can be filed in emergency situations when an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child or children exists.

Produce tangible evidence that demonstrates that your child or children are in immediate, imminent physical and/or psychological harm that threatens their safety or well being.

Examples of serious custody or visitation violations that may rise to a level that a family judge deems are not in the best interest of the child:

  • Frequently missed visitation times or exchanges (chronic and/or harmful patterns);
  • Consistent tardiness or early arrivals (that create disruption to the child’s routine and normal function);
  • Persistent disturbances designed to intentionally disrupt your visitation and/or scheduled time;
  • Refusal to take the kids to the doctors, school, therapy, etc.;
  • Verbal or physical abuse of the child;
  • Alcohol or substance abuse around the child;
  • Keeping the child with you for a longer visit than what is provided for in the custody or visitation order;
  • Failure to inform the other parent of the child’s whereabouts;
  • Taking the child on a vacation or trip without prior approval;
  • Taking the child out of the state or out of the country without approval (can lead to federal and international issues);
  • Allowing an unauthorized person to care for the child;
  • Attempts to interfere with the relationship between the child and the other parent;

By law, child custody arrangements are determined based on what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Connecticut Family Court Judges must consider a broad range of statutory factors when determining what is in a child’s best interests and their formulation of the related custody orders. Judges have an enormous amount of discretion in weighing and balancing statutory factors when forming their court orders, which sixteen (16) factors include:

(1) The temperament and developmental needs of the child;

(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;

(3) any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child;

(4) the wishes of the child’s parents as to custody;

(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child;

(6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;

(7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;

(8) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;

(9) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments;

(10) the length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment, provided the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child’s family home pendente lite in order to alleviate stress in the household;

(11) the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, or both;

(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child;

(13) the child’s cultural background;

(14) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child;

(15) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected; and

(16) whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program.
Family Court Judges tend to favor orders that allow both parents to co-parent, and both actively participate, but this does not always mean equally.
Parents can negotiate and enter into child custody arrangements and parenting plans by agreement. In most cases, far better results are achieved by parents who manage to negotiate a child custody agreement/parenting plan through compromise than to go to trial and have a family judge decide.

A temporary custody order is a legal decision by the court to award physical and legal custody of a minor child to an adult who may or may not be the child’s legal parent for a set period of time. Temporary custody orders do not turn final and are only temporary. These may be ordered by the court pendent lite (during the case), or following a granting of an ex parte application (until the hearing on the ex parte application is heard).

Temporary custody orders do not become final orders without a new order from a judge. However, once a temporary custody order is put in place, it lasts until a date stated in the order, or until a judge makes a new custody ruling.

Yes, Police can enforce Child Custody Orders, but are reluctant to do so.  Generally, police officers avoid getting involved in family matters unless the custody or visitation violation rises to the level of a crime like child abuse, abduction, or kidnapping.  What happens when you call the police will vary greatly from town to town and which officers show up at your house.

When it comes to the health and safety of your kids, you should always trust your instincts. If by way of example, you have legitimate concerns for their well-being in the care of the other parent based on some prior knowledge or statement, you should call the police.

If your child or children are in immediate danger, CALL 911.

Depending on the situation, the officer may simply direct you back to court, but if you end up in front of a judge, you will at least have the police report as evidence to help support your case.

A Child Custody Agreement that has been approved by a Connecticut family law judge and entered as an order of the court is legally binding on the parties involved.

If a parent violates a court-ordered or agreed-upon parenting plan, they run the risk of being held in contempt of court upon a finding of a willful violation of a clear court order. The parent who violates the order can face serious consequences. Always remember, the Court’s primary directive is to determine and protect the best interests of the child.

With all that said, there are three ways to deal with and pursue enforce a Child Custody or Visitation Order:

COMPROMISE AND COMMON SENSE (negotiation with the help of a skilled family lawyer and perhaps some form of limited scope mediation or similar negotiation process);


MOTION TO ENFORCE / MOTION FOR CONTEMPT (which seeks to enforce the order and/or hold the other parent in contempt of court for violating the court order);

Document and Gather Evidence of Violations

Keep a written record of all violations in a calendar or journal. Include dates, times, and detailed descriptions of each problem, event, problematic interaction. Timestamped social media posts, pictures, and texts can also be helpful. Keep copies of any police reports or other papers, including copies of emails and/or phone records.

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