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Connecticut Family Law on Domestic Violence

Acts of domestic violence occur when one family or household member commits, or threatens, violent acts against another. This crime can become a "cycle of violence" and involve repetitive physical and psychological abuse. How severely acts of domestic abuse are punished depends on the severity of the victim's injuries, whether a minor child was present, and whether a protective order was violated.

Domestic violence survivors are often able to obtain a protective order (also referred to as a restraining order) in order to help deter future abuse. These orders won't be able to stop an abuser from harming a victim, however they do allow the victim to have the abuser arrested if the provisions of the order are violated. The following table highlights Connecticut's laws regarding protective orders.

Code Section

Connecticut General Statutes section 46b-15: Protective Orders (Relief from Physical Abuse or Stalking by Family Members)

Who Can Obtain a Protective Order?

Anyone who has been subjected to continuous threats of present physical pain or physical injury, stalking, or a pattern of threats by a "family or household member."

Definition of "Family or Household Member"

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Parents or their children
  • People related by blood or marriage
  • People who currently live together or who previously lived together
  • People who have a child in common, and
  • People in, or who have recently been in, a dating relationship

If you and your abuser fall into one of the relationship categories listed above then you may be eligible for a protective order.


Protective orders can't be valid for more than one year. However, they may be extended for additional time as the court deems necessary.

Child Custody and Domestic Violence

When a Connecticut court is determining a minor child's custody arrangement, the court considers the rights and responsibilities of both parents and issues a custody order that serves the best interest of the child. The judge considers many factors (outlined in section 46b-56(c)) when making this determination, and any prior instances of domestic violence will be closely evaluated. Under Connecticut's family law on domestic violence, the judge must consider the effect of the domestic violence on the child if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents, a parent and the child, or a parent and any other individual.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Connecticut's family law on domestic violence contact a local family law attorney or a criminal defense lawyer.

If you or someone you know is domestic violence survivor help is available to you. For help contact the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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