ROs can be filed in either the district court, probate court, or superior court. Superior Courts however are not equipped to handle ROs and are limited in their jurisdiction. It is better to either file in district court or probate court, depending on your particular situation. If you already have a case pending in the probate courts (divorce, custody, guardianship), then it is a good idea to file any ROs in the same court so everything can be adjudicated together. ROs can also be filed at police stations after working hours. These are emergency ROs and are only valid for a period of no more than 24 hours. You are then required to appear in district court the following day to get an extension, and then 10 day after that in order to extend the RO to one full year.
After Filing: Now What?
RO hearings can be considered a mini-trial. Issues such as burden of proof and production, rules of evidence and proper court procedures must be considered. If your abuser has an attorney present at any of the RO hearings, it is a good idea to have an attorney of your own to help you defend yourself. There are instances when your abuser can ask the court for a reciprocal RO and the court may grant Mutual ROs. Because of this and many other reasons, you should have an attorney stand with you when asking the court for a RO.
I Have a Restraining Order: Am I Totally Safe Now?
Lastly, it needs to be said that a RO is simply a piece of paper. It empowers police and the court to exact harsh punishment to an abuser for violating a RO but the piece of paper will not protect you if the abuser really wanted to hurt you. If at any time, you feel in danger for yourself or your family, seek help through local police, hospitals, domestic violence shelters or counselors. Only you have the power to protect yourself and your family.
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