Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: How to Get One
Domestic violence is on the rise in America due to economic stress, mental illness and PTSD from wartime exposure. Far too often victims of domestic violence do not reach out for the help they need until it is too late. There are various types of legal protection orders that you can put into place, so if your abuser comes near your or a family member, you can call the police and have them arrested.
How to Obtain a Restraining Order
A domestic abuse restraining order is a civil order protecting you against an abuser who is an intimate partner or member of your family.
In an emergency situation when police are called to a domestic abuse disturbance, they can supply a victim with temporary protection but to get a full restraining order, you must follow the steps below.
Fill out DVRO application from your courthouse or online.
Fill out all the required forms along with the application and bring them back to the local courthouse. When you drop them off with the clerk, you will be given a hearing date. The judge may speak to you right then and grant you a temporary restraining order until the hearing. Your hearing should be scheduled within three weeks of filing your paperwork.
You are responsible for getting the paperwork and “serving” your abuser the notice of hearing. You cannot do it personally but have a trusted friend, family member or even the local sheriff take care of it for you. Anyone you chose over the age of 18 can serve the paperwork on your behalf.
If you have law enforcement deliver them, you do not have to pay for it. You are eligible for a “fee waiver,” you just have to fill out some paperwork. If you hire a private company to serve your papers, you do have to pay for it yourself. Regardless of whoever serves them, they need to fill out a Proof of Service Form to show they were appropriately served. You must then make five copies and take this form back to the court.
Your hearing is where you can prove to the judge that your abuser has caused harm to you or your family. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer with you at this meeting. Be sure to show up for your hearing or the application will be dismissed. Make sure you are on time, or even better early. Bring with you all the paperwork you filled out and evidence of abuse (pictures, medical bills, witness testimony) and any other proof of the violence.
After the judge signs your restraining order, take it to the clerk’s office and have it stamped. You should keep three copies, one on you at all times for law enforcement should you contact them. Once you have been issued the restraining order, you will want to notify your employer, co-workers, and other family members so that if anyone sees your abuser, you can contact law enforcement quickly.
Is the Process Different in Each State?
Each state has a different name for a DVRO and the process for obtaining one may include more or less paperwork, and the court system may vary. However, in each case, it will start with an application and most likely a hearing with all parties present.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can get a restraining order?
Anyone who has repeatedly been abused by a family member or domestic partner can apply for a DVRO.
How do I get one?
Depending on where you live, the process may vary, but it usually starts with filling out an application with the court.
Should I have an attorney?
Yes, in these cases especially it is helpful to have someone arguing your case for you especially if your abuser is intimidating and controlling.
What if my abuser violates the order?
Contact the police or local sheriff’s department immediately, and they will arrest them. Keep your paperwork on-hand at all times.
If you or a loved one is a victim of physical or mental domestic violence, take action now and get a restraining that could save your life and that of family members.