Respond to civil harassment restraining order

"Respond" means to let the judge and the other side know whether you agree or disagree with the request for restraining order, and why. If you want to respond in writing, you can complete a form and turn it in to the court. Responding in writing is optional and there is no penalty if you don't. 

If you were arrested recently, are on probation, or have a criminal case open, you should talk to your criminal lawyer before you put anything in writing. If you don't have a lawyer, you can go to a Self-Help Center to learn more about your options.

Before you start

This website has information to walk you through the basic process. But, you may need more help or legal advice. 

Anything you put in your papers could be used against you in a criminal case. Talk to a lawyer if you have any concerns.

  • Get free, in-person help from the court.  Learn more about your local court’s Self-Help Center.  

  • Hire a lawyer to help you with all or a part of your case. It’s possible to go through this process without a lawyer. But having a restraining order against you may have a lot of consequences, and you may want to hire a lawyer. 

How to respond to a request for a restraining order

  • Fill out the Response form (CH-120)

    • Fill out the form, called the Response to Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Orders (form CH-120)
    • Attach a copy of any evidence you have (pictures, text messages). If you need more time to put together evidence, you can let the judge know at your hearing (court date).
  • Make copies of your forms

    After you’ve filled out and signed the Response, form CH-120, make two copies. You'll need the two copies, plus the original, when you file with the court.

  • File your forms

    Take your forms and copies to the courthouse listed on the papers you were served.

    At the courthouse, you’ll file the forms by giving the original and your copies to the clerk. The clerk will keep the original, stamp your copies, and return the copies to you. One copy is for your records. The other copy is for the other side.

    You will not have to pay a fee to file your response (form CH-120) if:

    1. The other person checked item 13a on their CH-100. 

    2. You can’t afford the fees. You can ask the clerk for a fee waiver. You qualify for a fee waiver if you receive public benefits, your income is less than a set amount, or you can't afford the fee and meet your basic needs. You will need to fill out two extra forms:

     If you do not qualify for a fee waiver for either of these reasons, you will need to pay a fee of $435-$450 to the clerk when you file your forms if you decide to file a response. 

    illustration of documents being placed in a "drop box"

    Some courts have a drop box that you can use. If you use a drop box include the original and 2 copies to the clerk. After you drop your papers, you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your copies. If your court hearing is only a few days away, do not use a drop box. Take your papers to the court clerk to file.  Some courts allow online filing, also called efiling. You can find out if your court has online filing by visiting your court’s website. 

What's next?

Once you’ve completed and filed your forms, you'll need to have a copy mailed to the other side. This is called service and you will need to find another adult to do this for you. 

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