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Obtaining Restraining Orders – CT

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.

Enforcement of 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.


Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Victims of Domestic Violence – CT

In Connecticut, domestic violence is also known as family violence(aka intimate partner violence of "IPV"). Domestic violence occurs when there is an altercation or attack between either family or household members, which causes physical injury or threatens physical injury. Family or household members may be people who are related, married, previously married, people who live together, have a child together, or people who are dating or who have dated.

Laws and Definitions: Connecticut has specific laws that address domestic violence. The state defines domestic violence as physical, emotional, sexual, or economic abuse between family or household members. Connecticut General Statutes Chapter 815e contains the legal provisions related to domestic violence.

Domestic violence law in Connecticut does not address simple verbal arguments or emotional anguish unless there is a present danger that there will be physical violence. A parent disciplining a child is not considered domestic violence.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, it is important to understand that none of this is your fault. Domestic violence can be a very terrifying situation, and we want you to be able to remain calm and get the help you need. Your first step should be to call law enforcement to help you out of your current situation. They will be able to remove you from the situation and give you a safe place to be until you can put your thoughts together.

If you have been injured, it is very important to document your injuries and seek medical attention as soon as possible. This can help make sure the person who caused the injuries to you is held accountable for their actions. By having pictures or video of the injuries you have sustained, it will help the prosecution prove the case against the person who hurt you.

The prosecutor’s office and the Office of Family Services will make sure you have a safe place to go, as well as provide any other types of services you may need. The Office of Victim Services will likely be put in contact with you in order to help you find the help you need during this difficult time. It can help you find counselors and therapists as well as seek medical treatment and a safe place to stay for you and your children or other affected family members.

You may be very confused and intimidated by the court process. This is normal. It can be very confusing and overwhelming for people who do not deal with it every day. We are here to work with you and help you understand how you will be protected. Our attorneys are ready to stand by your side and help you through the entire process.

Maybe you have seen some strange behavior exhibited by a loved one or a friend that may point to the fact that they are either a victim of domestic violence or they’re a domestic abuser. It is important to know the signs, so you are able to help them in a time of need. By knowing the signs, you can be there when they need you and help them out of a situation before it gets worse.

The cycle of domestic violence is commonly broken down into three phases. The first phase is the tension-building phase, the second is the violent episode phase, and the third is the remorseful/honeymoon phase. These phases can vary in length depending on the length of the relationship and other factors contributing to its evolution. When the third phase is complete, the cycle usually begins again.


The first phase is tension building. Usually, the victim in these situations begins to feel angry, treated unfairly, hopeless, tense, afraid, embarrassed, depressed, and humiliated. This may be observed in their outward behavior, by being very submissive, being afraid to express feelings, or a feeling of walking on eggshells. Oftentimes in this phase, victims will turn to alcohol or drugs to help numb the pain and disguise the problem. If you see a friend or loved one start to show these signs, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with them and ask if you can help.

In the first phase, the abuser starts to feel tense, frustrated, jealous, and disgusted by the victim. These feelings can be observed in behaviors including being verbally abusive, silent, overly controlling, possessive, demanding, and arrogant. The abuser may also turn to alcohol and drugs to suppress these feelings.


The next phase, phase two, is the violent episode. In phase two, the victim will likely feel trapped, helpless, frightened, and may become numb to certain types of verbal and physical abuse. In many cases, this may manifest as trying to make themselves smaller, remove themselves from the situations, physical illness, seeking help, and trying to get away. Victims may even try to protect themselves.

As an outside observer of the relationship, you may notice bruises or scars on the victim. They may not want to talk about the incident, and they may even try to hide it. If you can, it may be in the victim’s best interest if you can help them to seek professional help. Don’t try to get revenge on their behalf or cause them to be hurt worse. Contacting law enforcement or an experienced therapist can help more than you know.

During the second phase, the abuser typically feels angry or enraged, frustrated, and that they are right. This trend may manifest via dangerously violent behavior, hurting the victim or other people, spiraling out of control, irrational behavior, or an overwhelming desire to hurt or kill someone or something. Again, if you witness someone in this phase, it is best not to intervene and to contact law enforcement instead. If you try to intervene, you are placing yourself at risk and may cause greater harm.


Finally, the third phase is the remorseful phase. During this phase, the victim may feel relieved, resentful, guilty, hopeful, or they may be angry or even in denial that the incident ever happened. This shift may be observed in behaviors like offering excuses for the abuser, withdrawing from social groups and gatherings, promising the situation will change, and trying to solve or prevent the problem from happening again. Even after the incident has occurred, it is important to offer help to the victim and find them professional help.

The third stage will look different for the abuser. During the third stage, the abuser will be apologetic, remorseful, self-righteous, and possibly unable to understand why the victim is hurt. Typically, they will blame the victim or others for the problem, and they may promise to change or continue to use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. If you see these behaviors, you can still contact law enforcement and help protect all involved.

Knowing the three phases of domestic violence can help you spot it and help those involved before it is too late.

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, know that there are special types of protection available. Depending on the facts of the case, a court can issue protective orders, restraining orders, or a standing criminal protective order. All of these orders prevent the defendant from having any contact with the victim. If they do have contact with the victim, they can be charged in court with not only the original crime committed but violation of the order as well.

Protective Orders are typically issued in cases wherein the defendant has been arrested for assault, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, threatening, or risk of injury to a child. A protective order prevents the defendant from engaging in specific behaviors toward or around the victim. These protective orders remain in place until the court releases the order or a criminal case is complete.  Protective Order only apply to non-family and non-members of a the household and are issued by the Criminal Court.  Protective order involving family and extended family members are specifically handled by the Family Court Division.

A Restraining Order is similar to but different from a protective order. Any person or family member who has been threatened with physical pain or injury may apply to the Superior Court for a restraining order against the person who is threatening them. The restraining orders are civil orders that do not require the threatening person to be arrested. The court can issue these orders without the defendant being in custody. Depending on the circumstances, the restraining order may prohibit the person who has threatened the individual not to restrain, threaten, harass, assault, molest, or attack the victim or go near the victim's home or other family members. These types of orders may also apply to the victim's children in certain instances. It is up to the court's discretion to determine how long the restraining order should last, and it may last for up to one year. After the one-year period, the victim can apply for more time, and the court could extend the order if it feels that doing so is necessary.

Finally, once the defendant has been convicted of a crime, the criminal court can issue a standing criminal protective order. The standing criminal protective order is very similar to a protective order, but it is issued by a criminal court and utilized after the defendant is convicted of a crime against the victim. A standing protective order can also be kept in place for as long as the court decides, and the court may decide to extend or revoke the order at its discretion, depending on the circumstances.

Several organizations in Connecticut offer support and resources for domestic violence victims.

Three notable organizations are:

Domestic Violence Crisis Center ("DVCC") in Fairfield Count;

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence ("CCADV") offering throughout Connecticut. Both provide services such as emergency shelters, counseling, legal advocacy, and more for those affected by domestic violence.

YMCA of Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services (Greenwich, CT only)

The penalties for domestic violence greatly depend on the crime charged and the complexity of the situation involved. A domestic violence crime could be classified either as a misdemeanor or a felony. In either instance, it is likely that any serious domestic violence conviction will go on a criminal record, and it will be searchable by employers and other people interested in viewing such records.

There may also be fines, jail or prison time, and other consequences, such as probation or long-term monitoring handed down as elements of a DV-related sentence. In cases that involve sex crimes, the accused may also have to register with the state as a sex offender on a database that is searchable by the public. In many cases, registration on the list is an ongoing event and must be confirmed by the offender on a quarterly or yearly basis.

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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