An alarming number of older residents in Southern California are the victims of elder abuse each and every day. There are a number of strategies that can be useful in protecting people against elder abuse. This includes obtaining an elder abuse restraining order. With this in mind, there are a number of matters surrounding an elder abuse restraining order you need to generally understand. These include the basics of the judicial process in California for obtaining this type of restraining order. 

Elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action. Elder abuse occurs within a relationship in which there is an expectation of trust. This general definition has been adopted around the world, including in California and across the United States. Examples of common perpetrators of elder abuse include:

  • Family members
  • Other individuals with a personal connection to an elderly victim
  • Staff members at skilled care facilities
  • Home health care providers

Elder abuse comes in a number of forms. The types of elder abuse we most commonly see in Southern California include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial abuse

Elder Abuse Statistics

The population of elderly residents in California is growing at a faster rate than in any other state in the country. Elder abuse in all of its forms is an epidemic in California and across the United States. There are expected to be 6.4 million senior citizens in the state by 2025. Hundreds of thousands of elderly people in the United States are abused each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5 million people in the United States are victims of elderly abuse each year, according to a number of studies. 

Elder Abuse Restraining Order Process in California

The Judicial Branch of California, the California court system, provides detailed information about how the elder abuse restraining order process works. 

  • The first step in obtaining an elder abuse restraining order is filing a petition with the court in the county where the elderly victim lives. The petition form is available online
  • If the abuse victim is not able to undertake this process on his or her own, a guardian and conservatorship can be established. This allows the court to appoint a person to act on behalf of an elder abuse victim for purposes like obtaining an elder abuse restraining order. 
  • There is no cost to pursue a restraining order case. 
  • The court will issue a temporary order when the petition is filed. 
  • The court will also set a court date for a hearing on whether the restraining order will be made permanent. The person against whom the restraining order is sought will have an opportunity to respond in court regarding the request for a restraining order.
  • A restraining order includes provisions like an order for the restrained person to stay away from the elderly individual, to cease all contact with the elderly person, and to leave the residence where the elderly individual lives should the subject of the restrainer order live at that location. 
  • The subject of the restraining order needs to be served with the petition and what is known as a summons. The summons is a document that advises of the date and time of the hearing on the restraining order. In addition, the subject of the restraining order will be served with a copy of the temporary restraining order. 
  • If the person seeking a restraining order fails to show up at the hearing, the court will dismiss the restraining order
  • If the subject of the restraining order fails to show up for the hearing, the court nearly always will make the restraining order permanent. 
  • If both the elderly person and the person sought to be restrained are at the hearing, they both have the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments to the court.
  • If the court agrees the need for a restraining order exists, the court will issue what is known as a permanent restraining order.
  • In California, “permanent restraining order” is something of a misnomer. In California, a permanent restraining order lasts for five years. 

Elder Abuse and the Need for a Guardianship and Conservatorship

In many instances, an elderly person lacks the ability to pursue a restraining order on his or her own. If that is the case, a family member or other trusted individual may assist. 

If an elderly person has more serious physical or mental health issues, a guardian and conservatorship may need to be established. A guardian and conservator is a trusted person appointed by the court to look out for an elderly person’s personal and financial interests. A guardian and conservator are in a legal position to seek an elder abuse restraining order on behalf of an elderly individual.