A restraining order is a court order that protects people from abuse, harassment, or threats of abuse. It can prevent the abuser from not contacting or going near the protected person(s). It will ensure that the individual will stay away from the protected person’s home, work, school, or children’s school.
Additionally, restrict the abuser from not having a gun or firearm while the order is in effect. You can request this court order if you are concerned about your safety because someone stalked, harassed, threatened you with violence, financially abused, or sexually assaulted you.
Moreover, a domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that may be issued when a person files against a household member, and there are acts or threatened acts of abuse. A household member does not have to reside in the same home but includes the following people: Parent, child, spouse or former spouse, current or former partner, grandparent, or grandchild.
A side note is that a person may also file against someone who is not a household member if the person is being stalked or was sexually assaulted. You can request a restraining order against people who are not close to you.
Petitions for a restraining order are filed in Civil Court if a domestic relationship does not exist between the victim and abuser, such as roommates, neighbors, co-workers, or non-immediate family members. This type of order is not meant for people who have dated or closely related.
How Can I Obtain a Restraining Order?
The Women’s Law Organization states that if you are in an abusive relationship, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as obtaining a restraining order. There are also other laws to protect you. One option is leaving the relationship, but this may not be as easy as it seems in many situations. However, many people can support you in leaving safely, including police, social workers, shelter workers, and friends and family.
You can create a safety plan if you decide to leave in the future. Protection orders, also known as restraining orders, are meant to keep you safe from a person who is harassing or harming you. The police can immediately arrest a person who violates a restraining order and charge them with a crime.
Depending on the local regulations in your state, restraining orders may also permit you to have sole custody of children, demand that the abuser moves out of a shared home, and hold the abuser accountable for your court and legal fees. Federal law states that you can receive a restraining order without any fees.
What Are the Common Types of Restraining Orders?
A few common types of restraining orders include:
- Emergency Restraining Order: The police may issue this if you are in immediate danger or cannot come to the courthouse right away to file a more permanent restraining order. It typically expires after a few days.
- Temporary Restraining Order. A judge may issue this to keep you safe before your case goes to court. Temporary restraining orders last for about 14 days.
- No-Contact Order. A judge may issue this if the case goes to court and the abuser is charged with a crime. It is a punishment for a crime and prohibits the abuser from having any contact with you. A no-contact order can last for a short or long time, depending on your specific case.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Order. A domestic violence restraining order tends to be longer than emergency or temporary restraining orders, possibly for several years. A judge may issue this after a court hearing.
How Does a Restraining Order Help?
A restraining or protection order can legally prohibit someone who abuses you or harasses you to the following:
- Stay away from you physically and have no contact with you by phone, by email, through social media, or otherwise, even though another person.
- Pay temporary child support, continue making mortgage payments on a home you own together or rental payments if the person’s name is on the lease, and allow you to stay in the home while the other person lives somewhere else.
- Turn over any weapons to the police.
- Conduct regular drug testing and attend counseling for domestic violence or drug and alcohol use.
- Stay away from your children and your children’s school, or visit the children only with supervision.
Judges have the flexibility and will cooperate with you to ensure that the order, if granted, meets your needs. If you have a restraining order and the person who hurt you goes against it (tries to contact you or your children), inform the police immediately. Law enforcement has the authority to arrest the person for not abiding by the order.
How to Apply for a Restraining Order?
Family Court judges can issue an order of protection if a family offense is committed. Some examples of a family offense include but are not limited to disorderly conduct, harassment, assault, sexual abuse, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, stalking, and criminal mischief. You can file the order with the Family Court if you need an order of protection against your current or former spouse or intimate partner, the parent of your child, or a person related by marriage or blood. Keep in mind that this is also where you would go to resolve issues with custody, visitation, and child support.
First, you would file a family offense petition with the Family Court clerk. Then, an advocate can guide you through this process, but you can also file independently. After filing the family offense petition, a judge will ask to speak to you. If it is determined there is a good cause, the judge will issue a temporary order of protection.
There will be a future court date to decide if the order of protection will remain in place. Both parties must be at this future court date. The other person must be served with the order of protection by the police to be valid.
For Criminal Court, if the abusive partner is arrested, a judge can issue an order of protection during the arraignment. However, this order will be temporary until the case is resolved. A “final” order of protection may be granted as a part of a plea deal or sentencing.
What Is the Duration for the Restraining Order?
Generally, a temporary order of protection or restraining order will last at least until the next court date. From there, it can be extended until the matter is resolved. A Family Court Order of Protection can last up to two years. Under some circumstances, a family court order may last up to 5 years.
A final order of protection from the Criminal Court may last up to 8 years, depending on the matter or what type of crime is committed. An order of protection from the Supreme Court as part of a divorce is permanent. It is important to note that the abusive partner could be arrested and charged with criminal contempt if the order is violated.
Usually, criminal contempt is charged when an individual ignores a court order. They may be brought back to court to have additional requirements imposed or go to jail for some time.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are in a situation where your safety is in jeopardy, it is vital to explore the possibility of obtaining a restraining order. It is highly recommended to contact a local restraining order attorney to assist you further with the process if you choose to do so.