How do I file a restraining order?
Restraining Order what is it?
Although state laws may vary, in general terms, a restraining order is a court order that protects a person from threatening actions, stalking, harassment, or physical abuse from another person. The order can be a civil order, which outlines other issues such as child custody, child support, and visitation, or it can be a criminal protective order.
Restraining orders can be issued against anyone with whom you have or have had a close relationship with including a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or a relative. It can also apply to members of the same household, those with whom you have a child, and those with whom you have been engaged or married or have had a substantive dating relationship.
Steps to Obtain a Restraining Order
As mentioned above, steps to obtain a restraining order can vary by state. Detailed below are the general steps.
- Complete proper forms.
Restraining orders are free and you can complete the order without help from a lawyer. Go to the district courthouse or find the application for protective orders for your state online.
For example, in the state of Texas you will have to complete the following forms: Application for Protective Order, Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, Protective Order, and Respondent Information forms.
- Take the forms to the courthouse.
After the proper forms have been completed, you will need to make two copies and take them to the courthouse. The forms need to be filed where you or the other person lives.
In some cases you may be issued a temporary order to protect you until your court hearing (referred to as a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order).
- Attend the hearing.
The restraining order hearing is generally scheduled within 2 weeks of the temporary restraining order issuance date. At the hearing the judge will hear evidence about your case and determine whether a temporary protection order is needed.
Information which you may need to provide in court can include information about your safety, documentation about the abuse (i.e. medical records or police reports), and information about the abuser, including their Social Security Number, name, address, employment information, and family members.
The alleged abuser may also have the right to attend the hearing and present evidence for the case. Both the alleged abuser and the requester may have legal counsel present.
- Restraining order is issued.
If a restraining order is granted by the court, the police will serve the order to the abuser. Do not serve the order yourself. You can give copies to a school, child care facility, a babysitter, or any other person who needs information about the order.
If the abuser is required to vacate your premises, the police will notify the abuser and arrange a time to have them gather their personal belongings.
Will the judge issue a restraining order?
Requesting an order does not guarantee an order will be issued. The judge must first determine if the relationship is covered under the current law, there is evidence that you are in immediate danger of abuse, or the abuser has previously caused you physical harm, attempted to cause you physical harm, or caused you to fear of imminent physical harm. An order can also be issued if the alleged abuser forced you to perform sexual acts under duress or through threat of harm.
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