Ron Lasorsa was a victim of a false restraining order. He fought the divorce system and founded the Kids Come First Coalition to help other fathers fight false restraining orders and false abuse allegations. He’s offering a free e-book, a blog, informative videos, and other information at his website Restraining Order 911 .
It’s common knowledge in the legal community that restraining orders are obtained wrongly on an everyday basis. Judges issue insane restraining orders without even a shred of evidence. Even David Letterman  has been victimized by a false restraining order. A bizarre New Mexico woman named Colleen Nestler  claimed he was psychologically abusing her through the television set using coded messages. Judge Daniel Sanchez wrongly issued the order against Letterman with no evidence.
Unlike most of us, David Letterman has vast financial resources and legal help ready to fight frivolous and abusive litigation such as Colleen Nestler’s restraining order. Most victims of false restraining orders, or “Orders of Protection” as they are called in some states, are not so lucky.
A basic civil restraining order can quash your freedom of speech, ban you from visiting locations you have frequented, and get you arrested and thrown in jail. You become a quasi-criminal in the eyes of the courts and law enforcement. Such orders are routinely issued without any notice to the defending party to appear in court to defend against them. It is likely the first you will hear about having a restraining order slapped on you is when law enforcement comes to your home or workplace to serve you with the restraining order papers.
During divorce proceedings, restraining orders are even more common. They are frequently used by abusive and controlling parents to get a de facto ruling for child custody and use of the home without opposition. Many temporary restraining orders are issued without any chance for the accused to even appear in court, let alone mount a defense.
This often results in a lying spouse falsely claiming violence or fear with little or no evidence having the other spouse kicked out of their home, banned from seeing their children, and living under the threat of arrest by the police if the abused spouse so much as tries to call the children on the telephone to say hello. It is likely that the person who has obtained the restraining order against you will spread the news of it far and wide, using it to portray you as a violent and dangerous person and to gain allies to support the position that you should have no custody of your children.
Family Law News , a publication of the State Bar of California Family Law Section, recently explained:
Protective orders are increasingly being used in family law cases to help one side jockey for an advantage in child custody…[they are] almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person….it is troubling that they appear to be sought more and more frequently for retaliation and litigation purposes.
Let’s be clear: any parent who files a restraining order to gain 100% custody of children and block contact with the children using false allegations is not only a liar, but worse is a child abuser. Blocking access to children and making false accusations against a parent are tactics used by people committing parental alienation , an acknowledged form of emotional child abuse. This is exactly what plaintiffs who falsely obtain restraining orders to keep the other parent from seeing the children are doing.
The way restraining orders work in the United States is for all purposes a violation of the US Constitution . You are presumed guilty until proven innocent, are punished without a trial, have no right to face your accuser in court prior to your punishment, and often do not get a speedy trial, either. You can end up listed in state and federal databases as a spousal abuser or child abuser, all without any trial or proof.
If you make the mistake of not showing up to defend yourself, thinking that you don’t want to see that nasty party who lied to get the restraining order anyway, you may find out that you will no longer be allowed to see your children, can’t get your property back, and can end up paying to maintain a home in which you cannot live or even approach without the nasty ex calling the police to have you arrested. In short, a restraining order can destroy your life and the lives of your children in short order.
Under the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1994, even if you have never been charged or prosecuted for domestic violence, you can end up permanently losing the custody of your children and either have no contact or be forced to use expensive “supervised visitation centers” that often cost more per hour than the “client” (that’s what they call the person forced to use them) makes.
All it takes for this to happen is for a family law court with its weak “preponderance of evidence ” standards to find that you the accused committed an act of domestic violence. People who have jobs related to children or law enforcement may lose their jobs. Immigrants may be kicked out of the country. These are all very serious consequences being decided by family law courts in which perjury is commonplace and judges routinely fail to read court filings and violate due process and court rules while applying appallingly weak judicial standards.
Some progress is being made at correcting the miscarriage of justice caused by falsely obtained restraining orders. A recent New Jersey court ruling (see NJ Restraining Order Ruling Will Curb False Claims ) held the “preponderance of evidence” standard specified by the state’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act to be unconstitutional. The ruling specifies that the “clear and convincing evidence ” standard applicable in many (but not all) civil courts must be used. This is not as strict as the “beyond reasonable doubt ” standard applied in criminal court, but is certainly an improvement.