A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that protects a person from being hurt or threatened by an abusive spouse or intimate partner. These orders restrict an abusive partner from harming, harassing, or contacting the other partner. Domestic violence restraining orders may be similar or identical to protection orders, depending on the state.
Facts about domestic violence restraining orders
A domestic violence restraining order can be very detailed about what a perpetrator can and can't do. It can restrain further acts of domestic violence and prohibit the perpetrator from entering the victim's residence, workplace, or any other location the victim specifies. It can restrain contact with the victim and the victim's family in person or by phone. If children are involved, a restraining order may grant custody to the victim and order that visitation with the perpetrator be supervised.
Other items in a restraining order may require the perpetrator to participate in a domestic violence treatment program, pay the victim's court fees and medical bills, allow use of a family car, and anything else that may help protect the victim.
If you seek a domestic violence restraining order
The process of getting a restraining order varies from state to state. However, these are the general steps:
1) Petition the court for a restraining order. This usually requires completing forms and filing them with a court clerk. There is no cost to file, and you don't need a lawyer.
2) Get a temporary order. This happens if the judge agrees you are in immediate danger.
3) The sheriff notifies the perpetrator. The perpetrator has a right to attend the hearing and testify.
4) Attend a hearing. You can choose to bring a lawyer with you.
5) The court approves or rejects the order. If the perpetrator doesn't show up at court, the judge may extend the temporary order or enter a final order if there is proof the perpetrator was notified of the proceedings. The order will specify how long it lasts.
6) Keep a copy of the order with you at all times. This will help police understand your situation if there are violations.
If a domestic violence restraining order is violated
Violations of a domestic violence restraining order are punishable by law. This includes any violations occurring in any jurisdiction across the nation. Depending on the circumstances and the state, violations can be a misdemeanor (or felony, in extreme cases) or contempt of court. In Washington State, if a person subject to a restraining order threatens or is violent toward the victim, the person will be arrested and charged with a gross misdemeanor.
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