A restraining order is a court order prohibiting one person from having contact with another person. No contact may be made in person in writing, by telephone or through a third party.
A restraining order may protect against the imminent danger of physical harm or repeated harassment. It may provide safety while you decide about the future of the relationship
Abuse may be hitting, pushing, slapping kicking, choking, punching, biting, restraining you from leaving, using a weapon, forcing sexual acts against your will, or repeated threats to harm you.
A domestic abuse restraining order can be filed by:
- An adult family member
- An adult household member
- An adult spouse or former spouse
- An adult with whom a person has a child in common
Harassment includes striking, shoving, kicking a person or threatening to do the same Harassment can also include repeatedly committing acts that harass or intimidate another person and serve no legitimate purpose.
A harassment restraining order can be filed by
- An adult victim
- A child victim
- Parent of a child victim
Child abuse can be physical injury, sexual contact or intercourse, sexual exploitation of the child, forcing the child to view sexual activity, exposing genitals or pubic area of child, causing the child to expose genitals or pubic area, permitting or encouraging the child to violate the prostitution laws, and emotional damage to the child. A child abuse restraining order may be filed by:
- An adult victim
- A child (or parent of) victim
- Guardian ad litem in a matter involving a child
- Social agency involved in the proceedings
There are two steps to obtaining a restraining order. The first is to complete and file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) form. Family Advocates has these forms and can assist in completing them. Write a "statement of facts telling what happened and why a restraining order is needed. Take this to the county clerk's office to obtain the judge's signature and then to the sheriff's department to be served on the respondent (abuser). The respondent will receive a copy of the entire TRO form. A TRO is in effect until the date of the Injunction Hearing, which is set by the judge. The injunction (formal word for restraining order) hearing is a fact finding hearing The judge will listen to both sides of the story and make a ruling based on the evidence presented. If the judge grants the restraining order, it may be for a period of time up to two years.
- Try to be at least 15 minutes early. If you dont appear or if you are late, the case may be dropped.
- Dress conservatively and be respectful of the judge and other court personnel.
- It is acceptable to bring witnesses to the hearing. They may only testify to what they saw or heard first hand related to the injunction.
- You and the respondent each have the right to have an attorney present. Don't be intimidated.
- Speak loudly and clearly.
- Bring whatever evidence you have to support you (i.e., police reports, doctors statements, pictures, etc.) to present to the judge.
- No matter what the respondent says, do not show frustration or anger in court. That is exactly what he/she wants you to do. Remaining calm will benefit your case.
- An injunction can be issued for up to two years. It is your decision.
- If there are special requests such as exchanging children or property, this is the time to make them. Have specific dates and times in mind. You may ask the judge to order law enforcement to be present when property exchange occurs. The judge cannot decide custody or visitation matters.
There is no charge for a domestic or child abuse restraining order. Harassment orders cost about $120 plus service fees. Under certain circumstances, this fee may be waived. What are other important considerations ?
- When the restraining order is signed, give your community law enforcement department a copy so they are aware of the situation.
- You are the enforcer of this restraining order. If the respondent violates it in any way, immediately call law enforcement. The order is only as good as you make it. Always consider your and your children's safety first.
- Your abuser may try to make you drop the order through promises or threats. Think very carefully about this before you act. Family Advocates' staff would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of this decision with you.
- You need to realize that if you contact the abuser, you may be arrested for causing that person to violate a court order. No contact means no contact by either party.