Restraining orders are issued in cases involving incidents of domestic violence and cases in which the judge believes that it is necessary to issue a restraining order to protect someone from another. However, circumstances sometimes arise in which a restraining order is inappropriate, such as when it is being used against an innocent person.
Restraining orders are court orders in which a judge directs that another person cannot make contact with a specified individual and must remain a certain number of feet from the individual at all times. This can include prohibitions regarding approaching the victim’s home, place of work, and other known areas where the victim frequents.
As mentioned above, restraining orders may be issued in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, assault and battery, harassment, stalking, and other cases. These orders generally forbid any type of contact, including phone calls, mail, email, social messaging, and other forms of communication. When the victim and defendant reside together, a restraining order serves to remove the defendant from the home.
Additionally, restraining orders can be complicated in cases where the defendant and victim share children. In many situations, the restraining order only pertains to the victim and not the children, so the other parent must make arrangements regarding the children to have someone else pick them up and drop them off. Although, in other cases, the children may also be named in the restraining order.
How Is the Restraining Order Obtained?
The Washington Courts permit restraining orders to be obtained in superior court as part of a family law action such as a divorce, legal separation, custody action, or paternity determination. A temporary restraining order can be filed at the time of a civil petition and signed by the judge, effective until the preliminary hearing takes place.
Usually, the majority of individuals retain attorneys to represent them in this process. As part of paternity actions, the county prosecutor or attorney general may request a restraining order on behalf of the child.
The Oregon State Bar lists the requirements for obtaining a restraining order. You can receive a restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act if your situation meets the following criteria:
- Age of Petitioner: You are at least 18 years old. If you are younger, then you can seek a restraining order if: (1) you are or you were married to the abuser, (2) you have been in a sexual relationship with the abuser, and (3) the person who abused you is at least 18 years old. If you are over 18 and were protected by a restraining order as a child and that order is still in effect, you may request the court to continue that order.
- Relationship to Abuser: The person who abused you is (1) your husband, wife, or domestic partner; (2) your former husband, wife, or domestic partner; or (3) an adult with whom you are living in a sexual relationship; or (4) an adult with whom you have been in a sexual relationship in the last two years; or( 5) an adult related to you by blood, marriage (legal marriage in this context is distinct from cohabitation) or adoption; or (6) the parent of your child.
- Meaning of Abuse: In the last 180 days, the person you wish to restrain has: physically injured you; or tried to injure you physically; or made you afraid that he or she was about to injure you physically or made you have sexual relations against your wishes by using force or threats of force.
- The danger of Further Abuse: You have to demonstrate that you are at risk of further abuse, such as threats from the abuser. The danger of further abuse can be shown with incidents of prior abuse, even if the prior abuse happened more than 180 days ago and.
- Credible Threat to Safety of Petitioner or Petitioner Child: In court, you have to prove that the abuser represents a credible threat to your physical safety or your child’s physical safety. More often than not, showing the danger of further abuse satisfies the requirement to show a credible threat to yourself or your child.
What Are The Terms of a Restraining Order?
Ouster: You can request the court that the abuser moves from your residence if you are married to the abuser if the residence is jointly owned or rented by you and the abuser, or if the title or lease is held solely in your name. If you are married, you do not have to be on the lease or deed to request removal.
Custody and Parenting Time: The court will grant you custody subject to the abuser’s reasonable parenting time. You can seek from the court that the parenting time is supervised and that the abuser needs to pay the expenses for the supervision. Keep in mind that a restraining order can only deal with custody and parenting time issues temporarily. To obtain “permanent” custody and parenting time orders, you must file a family law case, such as a divorce or custody case.
Stay Away: The abuser has to stay away from your residence (current or future), place of employment, children’s school, daycare, and any other premises if necessary. In the petition, you must state how close the abuser can come to you. You do not have to disclose your address on the petition.
No Contact: You can request the court to order the abuser not to contact you in person, by telephone, or by mail, with a few conditions. For instance, sometimes, the court will permit a narrow exception related to the exercise of parenting time.
Emergency Monetary Relief: You may seek from the court to order the other person to pay for rent, a change of locks, or purchase of airplane tickets or vehicles. Emergency monetary relief has to be connected to your safety or your child’s safety. For further relief, you can inquire about things as well, such as an order that the abuser does not possess or purchase firearms or ammunition.
How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?
Typically, the order is effective for one year. However, the abuser may request a hearing within 30 days after he or she was served with the order. After 30 days, the abuser can only request a hearing dealing with revision of custody or parenting-time provisions or requesting less restrictive terms regarding ouster. If the abuser fails to do that, then the restraining order will remain effective.
Additionally, you have the option of renewing your order, if a person in your situation would reasonably fear further acts of abuse without renewal. You need to make your request before the restraining order lapses. The abuser can request a hearing on your renewal request. A renewal may also be requested by a child under 18 when the original order was granted but reached 18 before the order lapsed.
When Do I Need to Contact A Lawyer?
If you are having issues with a current or previous restraining order, it would be useful to consider contacting a local restraining order attorney near you to guide you on how to ensure the order remains valid. Your lawyer can provide the guidance and representation needed for your case.