If you are going through a divorce or custody case, you may have to file for a Domestic Violence Order of Protection (sometimes called a Restraining Order or “TRO”) as a way to protect yourself from the other person. These orders can be issued in either Criminal Court or Family Court.
If a judge approves an order of protection, it can prohibit the respondent from coming close to you and your children, from harassing you, or from having any contact with you at all. The court can also order that they stay away from your property, including your home and your children’s schools, day care and baby sitters.
A TRO can be granted on temporary or permanent basis, depending on the circumstances. The temporary one lasts until you are able to get a hearing for a final order of protection. A permanent restraining order stays in effect for up to five years, but can be extended by the court if there are aggravating circumstances such as violation of an existing order or use of weapons.
You must tell the judge who the abuser is and where you live. You must also describe the most recent incident of violence or harassment that happened and why you think it will happen again. Be specific – the more details you can provide, the better your chances of getting a court order.
Ask the court to exclude the respondent from your home and place your children in their care until a court hearing can be scheduled. You can also ask the court to exclude the respondent from any contact with your children, including phone calls and email messages.
Your divorce lawyer will help you prepare for the hearing and to make your best case possible. They can help you present your evidence, which includes medical records and police reports. You should also bring copies of any evidence that you have that is relevant to your case.
It is important that you know the law in your state about what must be shown to get an order of protection, which usually is minimal. The standard of proof is quite low, requiring a preponderance of the evidence.
During your court hearing, the judge will want to hear from you and the other person as well as any witnesses. The judge will then decide if you should get an order of protection and what type. The judge may also request that you testify in court about any physical injuries you have sustained, which can be helpful to your case.
Once the court makes its decision, it will send the order to the other person. You will be given a copy of the order and a chance to ask for a change or dismissal.
When the other person fails to obey the court’s order, you can call the police. They can arrest them for violating the order and will take them into custody for investigation if necessary.
In addition, you should be aware that a violation of an order of protection is a felony and can result in serious consequences. A felony can include jail time, loss of firearms and other possessions, and fines.