A domestic violence restraining order can help protect you from violence or threats of violence by another person. If you are being threatened or hurt, it is important to understand what a restraining order is, and how it can help keep you safe. Understanding the basic steps toward getting a domestic violence restraining order can make the process seem less complicated, and help make your path to safety more clear.
What is a domestic violence restraining order? A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that can help keep you safe from violence. You can ask for a restraining order against someone who is physically hurting you, has tried to hurt you, or is threatening to hurt you. You can also ask for this order if that person has forced you to have sex by being violent towards you. There is no court fee for domestic violence restraining orders.
Who can I get a domestic violence restraining order against? You can ask for this type of order against someone you are related to or have a close relationship with, including a parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, in-law, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or just someone you dated. It does not matter whether you are still in a relationship with that person or not. If someone else is bothering you, such as a neighbor or a co-worker, you need to request a different kind of order, called a civil harassment order.
What can I ask for in a restraining order? You can ask that the person not contact or go near you, your children, or other relatives; not come near you; not own a gun; move out of your house; and follow child custody and visitation orders.
Filing for a domestic violence restraining order: You can file for this kind of order in any civil courthouse (a courthouse where they hear family law cases). Many courthouses have “self-help” centers that can help people without a lawyer file for a restraining order.
After filing for a domestic violence restraining order: If the Judge believes the reason you are asking for a restraining order, you will receive a “temporary” restraining order, and a next court date. The “temporary” restraining order will last until this date. At the next court date, you and the other person will have the chance to come to court and present evidence to the Judge. You should bring any kind of evidence you have to support your case: witnesses, photographs, medical reports, threatening letters, e-mails, or voicemails. You will ask the Judge to give you a “permanent” restraining order that will be valid for up to five years. At the same time, the other person has the chance to fight against the restraining order.
If the Judge doesn’t grant a “temporary” restraining order: The Judge may not give you the first “temporary” restraining order if he or she does not believe your situation. However, the Judge will still have to give you your next court date, which is your chance to bring more evidence and convince the Judge you need the restraining order to protect you.
What to do if the “restrained” person does not follow the order: You should call the police if the person does not follow the order. They can be arrested and charged with a crime.