Protective Orders: Important Things to Know
This guide will help individuals who are seeking protective orders, or who have been served with protective orders. Learn important tips about getting or defending against a protective order!
Prerequisites for a Protective OrderThe first thing you need to know is that a protective order is only available to individuals who have been abused or subject to domestic violence, or who were placed in a situation where they reasonably feared that they would be abused. The courts are looking for physical abuse. If your spouse is causing you emotional abuse, this is not the proper avenue for protection. Domestic violence opens the door to other potential abuses, including felonies such as rape and other sexual crimes. If your spouse has raped you, you could be entitled to a protective order. The Second thing you need to know is that a protective order can only be issued against someone who was a cohabitant. This is someone whom you lived with, such as a spouse, family member or a co-parent. There may be other individuals who qualify.
How To Get a Protective OrderIn order to get a protective order, you need to file a petition with the court. If you insist on filing a protective order without an attorney, follow these helpful tips to make sure your petition is prepared to succeed: (1) When deciding which incident of abuse or domestic violence to put first, put the most grievous and obvious incident. Even if it is not the most recent. (2) Make sure that you only give enough details to make it clear that you were abused. Don't tell your life story, as this can hurt your chances of getting it entered and isn't necessary. (3) Make sure you add in another sheet with all other incidents of abuse, no matter how small you may think they are.
What To Do Once You've Submitted Your PetitionIf your order was granted, there will be a hearing within 20 days to determine if it will be put in place for 180 days. In between the time you receive it and the hearing, you must serve the other person with the protective order (use a 3rd party, or a constable from the Sherrif's office). If your protective order was denied, you can request a hearing within 20 days to determine whether it was done improperly. Just because your protective order was rejected does not mean you will not succeed at the hearing. It is always worth going to a hearing.
What To Do If You've Been Served With a Protective OrderIf you received a protective order entered against you, do not contact the other party. Stay away from them until your hearing date. At that time, you will need to show evidence that you did not abuse or cause any kind of domestic violence against the other person. Often times this will come down to a "he said, she said" argument. In those cases, if there's only the strength of your word vs. their's, there is a strong chance the protective order will not be entered. It is crucial that you hire an attorney if you've been served with a protective order.