Law 101

Injunctions and Restraining Orders

This page covers Restraining Orders in civil lawsuits (TRO, Preliminary Injunctions, Permanent Injunctions). For restraining orders to protect you from abuse, go to our “Protection from Abuse: Restraining Orders for Domestic Violence, Civil Harassment, Elder, School, and Workplace” page.

Temporary Restraining Orders: A temporary restraining order (TRO) is an order by the court immediately prohibiting a threatened action. A TRO is only issued when there is a threat of irreparable harm that will occur if the court doesn’t immediately issue the order. Temporary restraining orders only last until a preliminary injunction hearing, usually a few weeks later, where all parties have been notified and have had time to prepare their arguments.

Preliminary Injunctions: A preliminary injunction is an order prohibiting an action, to preserve the status quo while the underlying court case is decided. It is issued at the request of a party who is concerned that the other party may take some action which would defeat the purpose of filing the lawsuit, such as selling or destroying disputed property. Preliminary injunctions generally last until the end of the lawsuit.

Permanent Injunctions: At the end of a court case, if the judge agrees that there is an ongoing threat, he or she may issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the threatened action indefinitely.

Injunctions and restraining orders can only be filed in an ongoing lawsuit. For example, if you have a dispute with your neighbor involving ownership of a tree that is on or near your property line, you might ask the judge for a TRO preventing your neighbor from cutting down the tree. Before (or together with) requesting a TRO, you would need to research and decide upon an appropriate legal theory upon which to sue the defendant. You would need to file a complaint based on that theory, called a “cause of action.”

Research Guides

The Law Librarians have created these research guides as an aid for those starting a legal research project. These guides recommend print and electronic resources that will help you find answers to your law-related questions. Many guides provide step-by-step information, as well as sample forms, for common legal procedures.


screenshot from video Should I Represent Myself in Court? Ms. Finney needs an injunction against her neighbor. Should she represent herself?
Court system video Court System: Who Are the Players? What Do They Do?