You must seek a restraining order immediately after you have been harmed or threatened with harm. You should not wait but should go to court as soon as possible after the abuse. At the first hearing you will present the judge with a declaration contained in forms that you can obtain without cost at the court clerk's office. In the forms be very specific and explain in detail what happened to you or the family that has harmed you. Use dates, times, and repeat the specific words that accompanied the abuse. Explain where you were, who saw the abuse and how you reacted. The judge may ask you questions. Always address the judge in a respectful manner and answer the judge's questions honestly and directly.
Temporary Restrining Order
If you are successful in the first hearing the judge will issue a temporary restraining order on your behalf. The court staff or judge will instruct you on serving that order on the person from who you are protected and the local police department. Follow the court's instructions carefully; the order is not effective until you have served the order. The court will set another hearing, which is your trial on domestic violence. It is at the second hearing that the court will decide whether or not to make your temporary order permanent.
Trial on Domestic Violence
At your trial it is essential that you bring in all your evidence. If you have pictures or letters, emails or texts to help prove your case, you must bring them to court with you. Bring three copies of everything you plan to show the judge, as you are required to give the other side a copy of anything you show the judge. If there were witnesses bring them to court with you, and be prepared for them to tell the judge what they saw and heard, the exception being children. There are different rules for bringing children into court, depending on their age. If you are successful at the trial the judge will grant you a permanent restraining order for up to five years.
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