Which Court Do I File For a Restraining Order in Rhode Island?

The first step in seeking a restraining order in Rhode Island is determining which court will have jurisdiction over your case.  The answer to this question is two-fold.  First, you must determine the appropriate court: Family, District, or Superior.  Second, you must determine the appropriate county.

Step 1: Which Court?

In Rhode Island, restraining orders are handled by three different courts: District Court, Family Court, and Superior Court.  Where you will file your restraining order will depend on the relationship you have with the defendant.

Family Court

To file a restraining order in Rhode Island Family Court, the plaintiff (person seeking the order) and the defendant must be related.  This includes:

  • spouses or former spouses
  • parents or step-parents
  • children or step-children
  • someone with whom the plaintiff has a child in common
  • others related by blood or marriage

The Family Court also has jurisdiction over juveniles.  Therefore, the Family Court will hear restraining orders in cases where the two parties are juveniles and have been in a “significant dating relationship” for the past year.

District Court

The District Court has jurisdiction over restraining orders where the parties are both adults who have lived together within the past 3 years and are not related by blood or marriage and do not have a child in common.  This would include those adults in dating relationships and those without romantic ties, like roommates.

Superior Court

All other restraining orders not within the jurisdiction of the Family Court or District Court are handled in Superior Court.

Step 2: Which County?

You should file for a restraining order in the county where you live.  The counties include: Providence, Bristol, Kent, Washington, and Newport.  Please note that Bristol County is encompassed with Providence County.

  • Providence Family Court/ District Court: 1 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903
  • Providence Superior Court: 250 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02903
  • Kent County: 222 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886
  • Washington County: 4800 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879
  • Newport County: 45 Washington Square, Newport, RI 02840


It is important to have knowledgeable attorney on your side during this difficult time. The Rhode Island Restraining Order Lawyers at Abilheira Law are experienced in handling these complex cases and have your safety in mind. If you are in need of help, contact Abilheira Law today for a free and confidential consultation: 401-245-5100.