What Is Restraining Order Abuse?

Restraining order abuse is a form of abuse of process or malicious prosecution in which a plaintiff applies for a restraining order for a purpose other than that for which it was intended. Typically this purpose is a vengeful, exploitative, or otherwise vicious one—though restraining orders are also misused by the delusional, who may falsely believe their need to be valid and have no ulterior motive.

Restraining order applicants aren’t screened, whether based on their being under psychiatric care or having a history of mental illness, on their possessing criminal records, or on their having previously sought one or multiple restraining orders in the past. Some restraining order abusers are repeat offenders who know how to game the system for malicious ends.

Restraining order abuse is open to all comers. The courts don’t discriminate, and it doesn’t take a criminal mastermind. It doesn’t in fact even take a good liar, just a willing one.

Though lying to obtain a restraining order is a felony offense (perjury), this crime is never prosecuted, so all a malicious plaintiff risks is disappointment if his or her application is denied or his or her injunction is quashed on appeal—and there’s nothing to stop him or her from reapplying. Getting fraudulent restraining orders against the same defendant in multiple jurisdictions isn’t unheard of, nor is getting fraudulent restraining orders against multiple defendants.

Accountability in this process is nil.

Obtaining a restraining order can require less than an hour’s time and is usually free for the asking. Any adult who walks into a courthouse is entitled to apply. Actual time before a judge may be mere minutes, and restraining orders are issued ex parte, which means a judge’s basis for approving one is the plaintiff’s word alone, along with any evidence s/he may present during the brief interview, which evidence may of course be forged, skewed, or misrepresented. And injunctions may be approved in the absence of any corroborating “evidence” at all.

The entitlement to due process is categorically denied to restraining order defendants. Per Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed.), “Due process of law in each particular case means such an exercise of the powers of the government as the settled maxims of law permit and sanction, and under such safeguards for the protection of individual rights as those maxims prescribe for the class of cases to which the one in question belongs.” In regard to restraining order defendants, the prescribed “safeguards for the protection of individual rights” are none.

The reason for this is a relic of the past.

Restraining orders were conceived decades ago in response to public outcry as a measure to arrest domestic violence, which was largely ignored or discounted at the time. Accordingly, the customary standard for substantiating a complaint to the court that bears criminal implications and consequences (namely, proof beyond a reasonable doubt) is suspended in restraining order cases, and plaintiffs are given broad latitude to ensure that those in legitimate need of protection will get it. This also explains restraining orders’ being free or inexpensive to procure.

This in turn explains the popularity of restraining orders as instruments of avarice, malice, or vendetta. A false allegation of domestic violence, for example, may require no material substantiation and risks a vicious plaintiff nothing yet may cost an innocent defendant everything, including home, property, and access to children and pets—and even, conceivably, freedom and income. Loss of health, reputation, and enjoyment of life goes without saying.

Motives for restraining order abuse run the gamut. Restraining orders are commonly abused by plaintiffs to gain the upper hand in child custody battles (spouses may portray their husbands or wives as monsters, and even coerce and coach their children to do the same). They’re abused preemptively by stalkers to disarm and dominate the targets of their obsessions. They’re abused by lovers to get clear of unwanted boy- or girlfriends or to spitefully injure boy- or girlfriends who rejected them (or even to injure former boy- or girlfriends’ new girl- or boyfriends).  They’re abused to gain sole ownership of pets and property. They’re abused to end extramarital relationships (while casting the accuser—who’s usually the cheater—in a positive light). They’re abused to blackmail: “Give me what I want, and I’ll drop the restraining order.” They’re abused to intimidate, harass, and maim.

Restraining orders are abused, in short, for the petty gratification of anyone who’s low enough to exploit the process.

Copyright © 2012 RestrainingOrderAbuse.com

333 Responses “What Is Restraining Order Abuse?” →

  1. Roberto Green

    July 29, 2015

    what do you mean, when you say “moving the court to vacate it” ?


  2. Anonymous

    July 29, 2015

    Can I stop my own restraining order?


  3. robert

    July 25, 2015

    My wife ex husband put a restraint order on me so kids couldn’t come home. He was ordered to pay child support so now he’s doing whatever. He has seen his kids maybe 25 times in three years before. Well get this his girlfriend not him wrote down on paper false statement on behalf h
    Kids. Nothing in report is true. Their so stupid they tried to keep them from their mom. Cops said its against me not their mom. I’m stepdad. My wife asked them about restraining order details and they said they don’t know anything.. They were told his girlfriend was filing a o get her driver’s license. What can I do for this blatent false report

    • Appeal the order if you haven’t already (most states assign hearing dates; some require that you request a hearing). If you’ve had a hearing, and it went against you, you can file an appeal with the next highest court. If you can get a lawyer’s help, that’s advisable. I’m not sure if kids can be compelled to appear or speak in court. If they can be, that seems like it would be a good way of getting the truth from the so-called “source” of the accusations. Otherwise your wife could report to the court that she has asked the kids about the order, and they say they don’t know anything about it. Your wife’s testimony, at the very least, should controvert the accusations (i.e., call them into question). You could probably also subpoena the ex-husband’s girlfriend and require her to testify (him, too).

      I believe a tutorial on subpoenaing witnesses is here (this isn’t as big a deal as it sounds):


      “Subpoena” just means that the person has to appear to answer questions or be “punished” (that’s what the poena part means).

      • Sorry. I checked, and the blog of the attorney the link goes to has been revised since I first looked at it years ago. I don’t see an reference to subpoenaing witnesses there anymore.

      • This comes from WomensLaw.org:

        Court clerks have subpoena forms that you can fill out and the subpoena will have to be signed by the judge. There may be specific rules in your state regarding how the witness has to be served with the subpoena and even how many days in advance of the hearing s/he must be served. Be sure to ask the clerk or the judge for this information. In some states, the sheriff department will serve the subpoena; in other states, you may have to get someone over the age of 18 to serve it or a process server. You can ask the clerk of court how to have your subpoenas served.

        If the people you subpoena do not come to the hearing, let the judge know. The judge can penalize them for not showing up and you can ask the judge to postpone the hearing until the subpoenaed people appear.


  4. Roberto Green

    July 22, 2015

    Thanks for the report, it’ very informative. It sure opened up my eyes a bit more. And after reading this report about immigration it makes me think that maybe she had a plan. And I am saying this because, she is not interested in working things out, she pulled two restraining orders on me, months apart from each other for no apparent reason. I feel like she was building this case against me. Too bad I lost my job and c She pull this restraining order with bogus accusations, and she even introduced a picture of my son to the judge with a hand imprinted on his cheek claiming that I slapped him. The judge believed it, he didn’t even examined the picture. She fabricated that picture and imprinted that hand on my son. I am getting ready to also get in contact with a forensic psychologist because the hand on his cheek sure do not fit mine. I am worry about my kids..And then I need to file for divorce and I am not sure in what order I should do it. I Know that I need to file an appeal for this restraining order, but I am not sure when to file for Divorce. Should I wait until this is clear up or do I file now. Please advice.

    • Family/divorce attorneys aren’t strangers to this game, Roberto, so consulting with one as soon as it’s possible to would be a good idea (and brief phone conversations are free). Appeals aren’t their bailiwick, but a divorce lawyer you spoke to might be able to refer you. Also, if the settlement you anticipate is solid (“fer sure”), there might be a lawyer who would consider that as collateral for services. I’d call around right away.

      A doctored photo is a very calculated move. What shows in the photo, a red mark? There must be some kind of expert who could determine whether the image was tampered with. A police forensics specialist might be able to give you a lead. Worse would be if the photo weren’t altered and someone else hit your son. I don’t know if this might be grounds to open an investigation of some sort or whether you’d want the additional headache. I know it would concern me, though. Yeah, a forensic psychologist might be a good idea. Child Protective Services seems to be a nightmare (more records, more monitors, more invasions), but I don’t know why you couldn’t talk to a cop and express your concerns. At least consulting with a cop is free. Was the photo entered into evidence (given to the court to preserve as part of the record)? I mean, basically, her “evidence” is either proof that she’s committed fraud or that she has abused your son. I wonder if there are sites that tell people how they can get away with this kind of thing.

      I would consider (1) talking with some lawyers (who might give you some free counsel), and (2) talking with a cop. If you don’t have a copy of the photo but it was given to the court, you should be able to get a copy from the courthouse. Otherwise, you’d have to get a lawyer to compel your wife to produce it.

      Some preliminary stuff you could do yourself is get the digital recording of the restraining order hearing and copies of any filings with the court or the PD that you don’t already have. I don’t know how it works in California, but sometimes plaintiffs submit affidavits to the court (narrative accounts, usually) that are kept from defendants. You can request to see anything that’s been used against you and find out if something was held back (if so, report that you’re filing an appeal, and demand a copy).


  5. Roberto Green

    July 22, 2015

    one more thing..I’m willing to take a polygraph test and submitted in court but can I order suggest one for her as well. Will the judge admitted in court? I just want to be part of my kids life and this woman think that she can get away with it, because she did not get her way. I want to do anything that is legal that I can do on my own since until I can get an attorney.


  6. Roberto Green

    July 22, 2015

    Thank you for your reply. I went to court and yes the judge ruled against me. She was repeatedly asked is she was afraid of me, and and she just kept saying yes. I could not believe it! The judge has ordered me to do 52 hrs of domestic violence classes totally unfair . But this woman is insane. A week ago my sister went to where she is staying to take my son some toys and my wife refused to speak to her she had her sister talk to my sister and told her not go there. My sister who I know to be very peaceful left. But in court my wife said that she had to call the Cops on my sister because acted violent towards her. She said this after the judge asked me if I knew of anyone (under supervision) who could be present while I visited the kids for a few hours. And of course she objected by lying about my sister too. She is constantly lying in court, how can the judge not see this! I was even considering calling the police department and finding out if a call came thru for a disturbance at that address the day that my sister visited. And if there is no record of that, do you think the police will give me any paperwork that says that no call came in. I just want to show the judge that my wife is not telling the truth. On top of that during mediation, the mediator spent a whole hour with my wife and only 10 mins with. And when I received the report everything pointed against me. The recommendations were outrageous. It ruled all in her favor. I am going to appeal, but don’t know what forms to get, I know I have 30 days. And I am going to gather as much information I can. any advice will be well appreciated. One of my sisters suggested that I get declarations of my past relationships..Not sure

    • You’re welcome, and I hope it helps you guys.

      Just hit the courthouse on your day off or during lunch, Roberto. The clerks there should get you squared away, and I don’t think there’s a charge (there isn’t here in Arizona, anyhow, and California and Arizona law may well correspond on this). If the window to appeal hasn’t closed, you might consider filing a Motion for Oral Argument so that you can speak to the judge directly. You could also indicate that you have witnesses and find out if the court would allow them to be heard in person (otherwise you could attach affidavits—sworn statements signed by a notary—as “Exhibits” to your memorandum). If you can get an attorney on board, great. If you can’t, it should be a simple matter to find some example documents online so you can see how to format your appeal (how to caption your memorandum—i.e., what goes on top—what line-spacing, typeface, and margins to use, etc.).

      I don’t know how the court would feel about a polygraph. I believe you could get one (that you paid for). Whether the court would allow it or whether it would carry any sway, I couldn’t say. It could be attached as an exhibit to your memorandum, I believe. Maybe see what some research tells you—or ask the lawyer who you hope to get.

      (If you need to buy yourself more time to get an attorney’s help, consider filing a Motion to Enlarge Time and asking the court for an extra 30 days or whatever—after you file your notice of appeal.)

  7. My ex was physically and verbally abusive, I had to file a restraining order and moved out. Now he is suing me in court for all his legal fees. Saying it was a false report. I have evidence even a video of him punching me while holding our infant son. The judge let the temp order expire and denied a permanent one. He is still harassing me and online stalking me. Now I have to go to court for his suit. What are the chances I will have to pay his legal fees? The system has been so unfair to me so far. The courts have treated me like the criminal and him like the victim. its awful

    • I’ll try to offer some thoughts, D. Please fill in some blanks, though, if you would:

      1. Did the judge deny you the opportunity to present your evidence at the hearing for the permanent order? Was the temporary order you got based on evidence you showed the judge, or did you just report that you had been abused?

      2. How did you manage to get a video of your ex punching you while you were holding a baby?

      3. How are you being harassed and stalked?

      4. The two of you are separated but have a son together?

      5. You’re not married, right?

      Without a clear understanding of what all has transpired, you might consider filing an appeal (i.e., appealing the dismissal of the order to the next highest court) and providing your evidence to the appellate judge. I haven’t heard of anyone doing this, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t be possible. If the lower court judge simply refused to consider your evidence, you could explain that. Then if you were sued in small claims, you could explain you have appealed the ruling and that a judgment is pending.

      This is all puzzling, though, if you’re the parents of an infant child. You think he wants to take you for a few thousand then, what, sue for custody?

      I’ll try to offer more ideas when I have a better sense of your situation. Meanwhile, preserve and document everything, D. Keep records (screenshots or whatever) and a log.


  8. Roberto Green

    July 20, 2015

    by the way my wife filed a previous restraining order against me back in September of 2014, and that is how I ended up at my sisters. A few weeks later she calls me and asked me for forgiveness, she was staying at her sisters because she lost the apartment that we had together. While staying at her sisters she contacted my sister and asked her if she could move in with me. She didn’t follow up on the restraining order after moving in with my sister, I was ordered to appear in court and she didn’t show up. And during mediation that restraining order was never mentioned only the present (or second she just recently filed a month ago). I have been disable for a couple of months and waiting on a large settlement and feel that the only reason she contacted me is because of that settlement, I am not sure. At this point I just want to be able to clear my name on this one and be able to be a father to my kids.


    just some additional information.


  9. Roberto Green

    July 20, 2015

    My wife of 3 years soon to be my ex-wife filed a restraining order against me. Claiming that I abused her and threatened to killed her. Which is are all false charges against me. How do I prove the judge that is not true. I have never committed domestic violence to any woman that I have been in a relationship with. One thing that I am guilty of is of committing a crime when I was 19 and did time for that, which was drug related. Also very unfortunate, 10 years ago I got a misdemeanor when I worked as a bouncer for a fight that ended bad against a gang member who ended up at the hospital. But I have never, never, never committed a crime against a woman, because I don’t hit women or kids. But my wife is using my past as an instrument to sustained that she was abused, when is all not true. Unfortunately, my past is hunting me because its being used against me and the judge granted her that restraining order, based on my past. I feel like I am being tried again for something I already paid for and is being used against me to keep my children away from me. And now I am being forced to take 52 weeks of domestic violence classes for something I never committed and she is being granted full custody. I wouldn’t be able to see my kids until I complete this course and who knows what else she is going to come up next to keep me away. What can I do to defend myself. Can I get statements from my previous relationships to prove that I never committed any domestic violence against them. I was also previously married for 10 years and my ex-wife is willing to write a statement and be in court to testify on my behalf. Can this help me. I am willing to submit to a polygraph test to prove my innocence and will like the judge to order one on her also. We lived with my sister for two years and she is also wiling to testify that no violence ever occurred. My wife and I also worked together for two years repossessing vehicles and now she’s telling the court that she is afraid of me and cries in court to play a victims game. When she was way more bold than I when confronting the people that we repo and recover those cars for an agency. … I am just trying to clear my name in this one and to be a father..any advice. By the way she is an illegal immigrant and I am a U.S Citizen..our children were born in Califonia where I reside and where the restraining order is in effect. Until next year.

    • Were you granted an appeals hearing, Roberto? That would have been a good time to introduce witness testimony if the judge allowed it. If you’ve already been to court and the judge ruled against you, you could consider filing an appeal.

      Any chance you could afford to hire a lawyer? If that’s not possible now, I’d recommend you plan on hiring help when you’re able.

      I’ll try to offer some more ideas when I have a better sense of where you’re at and what kind of time has elapsed.

      You think she’s building leverage to get a share of the settlement you’re expecting? Is she still “illegal” in spite of your being married for three years?

      See this report, Roberto:



  10. George Michel

    July 18, 2015

    I was framed into an order of protection double jeopardy cover up by Melissa Nieves director of education at union settlement association to prevent me from ever being in my sons life in 6/29/09 I was told I was being arrested for aggravated harassment cursing her out on her voice mail when I was trying to make a civil judgement I was released instead without my knowledge she went to family court the next day 6/30/09 I had no further contact at the time two months later on 8/11/09 homicide det Jennings come to my home an arrest me then forced me to sign a blank document saying it was pertaining to family court the truth is there’s no telling what I signed they regenerated the complaint that I was supposed to be arrested for back on June 29 of 09 then when I was served in family court I had to explain it was before the 30th if I hadn’t I would done time for violating an order that was never violated then when order was subject to family court order she brought a birth registration form claiming the child was born way after then I was told it was medically impossible for me to be the father it wasn’t valid birth record they didn’t take my averdavid of service and didn’t allow me to get an attorney nor dna an believe she using special interest an social media to target me and take my life also believe she has friends in organized crime an might be affiliated her self tried make a complaint to fbi doi email news spoke to public corruption he told me he found something new then didn’t tell me and then said he doesn’t think its public corruption when it was clear like something was done not to help me an not to believe me seem to be to many secrets against me she even made educational domestic violence films on we are new York around that time which could have only been accessed through her at that time which I never seen she a vindictive smart criminal with my child for all the wrong reseans

    • It’s hard from this sketch to absorb what exactly happened. If you would like to tell your story here, George—in a post, I mean—you’d be welcome to.

  11. I was wondering if I can put one on people who have jumped me around a couple months ago. They recently moved really near me and I feel so angry as if I want to fight them. But I’m trying to control myself, I also feel unsafe, for me and family. What can I do?

    • How serious is the bad blood between you, Juana? Is it the kind of thing you could talk out (maybe with your family)? It’s possible a judge would approve an order, but you should understand that a court order is just some paper, and being publicly accused will make them hate you more. Also, the people you complain to the cops or courts about can complain to them about you.

    • Were you hurt?

  12. I’m a female with a restraining order on me in IL. I just dropped my exs domestic and op. He put one on me after he drove me to get an abortion claiming I falsified his charges when there’s hospital records. I blew up his phone worrying about him for several days. Do you know what they look for in Il hearings?

  13. I’ll try to keep this short.

    I moved out of my house 19 months ago. For the first 12, my wife and I were going to therapy and working on reconciling. She invited me to sleep at the house twice. On October 31st 2014 she told me she wanted to divorce. I resided in the house 2 separate times after that for about 7 days each when she went on business training. We have 2 small children. I go to the house regularly 2 days a week as I have been responsible for childcare those days from the time they were born. There has been nothing filed anywhere so far. I was given notice that I need to leave my apartment by months end. Due to significant financial distress and after consultation with my attorney I decided to move back in. I showed up last Friday with a suitcase, food and bedding. She went ballistic. She told me I am not moving back in. She threatened to try to have me arrested. She threatened to get a restraining order. All of this and more in front of my children – who got VERY distressed. She called the police. After having their legal department review it for over an hour, the police said I had the right to enter the house. She took my 2 kids and went to her mothers a few blocks away. Question 1 – I suspect she will at least follow through on her threat to try to get a restraining order – There has never been physical violence. I was even calm in the face of her angry intensity last Friday – her goal is to get me out of the house – 1) what is your opinion on the likelihood of her being able to do so? 2) This is not the first time she has spoken to me in a demeaning and/or angry way in front of my children (my therapist called it verbal disparity). I have notes of at least 3-4 times past and I recorded (audio) the events of last Friday. Do I have grounds to get a limited (not harass, etc) order against her? I am in Nassau County NY

    • To the best of my knowledge, H., protection orders are issued in New York either in conjunction with a criminal charge or in family court. You would take the latter route from what I understand.

      I’ve heard some New Yorkers describe a female domestic partner’s application for an order as a slam dunk, so I wouldn’t discount the likelihood. Also, if she’s out for blood, she could say anything, and there’s no standard of proof applied to petitions. They’re civil instruments. The standard, basically, is convincingness.

      I can’t recommend to you how to proceed, but I do know that being the first one up the courthouse steps often counts for a lot. An instrument you petitioned is one you could probably exercise some control over. For example, in New York, it’s possible for someone to have a protective order that doesn’t deny the defendant the right to cohabit. An instrument against you is one you could contest but probably not control. You could find yourself living in a shelter.

      Talking with your attorney before acting is never a bad idea.

      From what little I know of your situation, it sounds like you might have persuasive grounds. You could probably play the tape for the judge, describe your history and your wife’s volatility, and express your concern for your children. You could also consider witness testimony if applicable. I don’t know what a judge would allow, but if you decided to go to the courthouse, you’d probably be smart to have as well-fortified a case to make as possible. (FYI: you may mean “verbal disparagement.”)

      Finally, I can say with the authority of having listened to a lot of people’s stories that a wrathful woman seldom pulls her punches. I wouldn’t count on her cooling off. It sounds like she’d gladly have you removed from the picture and that divorce is probably an inevitability. My thought is since you’re more conscience-bound than she is, you ought to privilege your own interests. The ax can fall fast and hard, and accusers don’t second-guess themselves even when they know they acted in heat.

1 Trackback For This Post
  1. FILING FALSE PROTECTION ORDERS | scornedbutnotbeaten

    […] For a more complete description and discussion on the topic of restraining orders, check out Talking back to restraining orders. Using a protection order in this case should be illegal. The person doing this has perjured […]

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