One in four women and one in seven men may be affected by domestic violence at least once in their life, according to studies.States have passed laws to create a legal process to protect you from a partner who is harassing, abusing, or stalking you.Family law and criminal law have protective orders.Criminal fines and jail time are possible for violating a protective order, even if it’s issued in civil court.
Step 1: Understand the law.
A protective order is a type of restraining order issued by the court.You need to show the court that you or your children are in imminent danger from harassment, stalking, or physical abuse in order to get an emergency protective order.Most states will allow you to file an EPO against your partner.Other states will allow you to get an EPO against a family member.
Step 2: Evaluate the situation.
You don’t have to wait until you are injured to file.There are credible threats of violence and ongoing psychological and emotional abuse.Do you know if you are living in a cycle of violence because your partner is jealous and isolating you from your support systems?Did your partner use physical force during the argument?Does your partner threaten to hurt you if you leave?Does your partner humiliate you as a way to control your behavior?Are you forced to have sex against your will?
Step 3: Write about the abuse.
A description of the situation is required when you file for a protective order.You can do it before you sit in the lobby of the courthouse or talk with an advocate.Dates and locations should be as specific as possible.List any medical care you received for yourself or your children.Do not exaggerate.Signing the petition will make you swear that it is true.
Step 4: A safety plan is needed.
You are at risk in the two weeks after you leave a violent relationship.One of the first steps in that process is an EPO.Before you file for a protective order, you should have a safety plan in place.If you need to flee at a moment’s notice, you should have important papers, your cell phone, car keys, and contact information for trusted friends and family.
Step 5: You have to decide where you will file your EPO.
In order for the court to have jurisdiction, you have to file the EPO at the courthouse in the county where you live.Most states don’t require you to live in the county for a specific period of time, but you may be asked to show proof of residency, such as utility receipts, paystubs, or statements from family that you are living under their roof.
Step 6: You can contact an advocacy organization.
Most counties have fill-in-the-blank forms.They can be difficult when you are injured, exhausted, or under stress.You can get assistance completing the documents you need to file with the court from most counties.The Legal Services Corporation was created by the federal government in 1974 to administer legal aid offices.There are legal aid offices in every county of the United States.If you meet the income requirements, most legal aid offices offer assistance for free.You can connect with a domestic violence program.There are dedicated domestic violence advocacy programs in many areas.During the filing and court procedure, these programs may offer emotional support.Emergency shelter, counseling, and legal advice can often be helped by these programs.You can find these local organizations by looking in the phone book, performing an online search for domestic violence, or calling local law enforcement.Business cards and pamphlets can be found in the court clerk office.Contact a private attorney.A fixed fee or hourly rate is what most family law attorneys charge.If you are low income, ask for a reduced fee.If there is an ongoing or planned divorce, private attorneys are often involved.
Step 7: The application should be obtained.
If you are unable or unwilling to seek out assistance from an advocacy organization, most jurisdictions have forms packages that you can complete online or via a paper package from the courthouse.You will need reliable internet and a printer to use online forms.Select your state from the LawHelp.org forms directory.Follow the instructions to complete, download, and print the form package.The court clerk’s office in the county where you will be filing will usually have a fill-in-the-blanks application package.
Step 8: Start the petition.
You must complete each section of the application if you are working with an advocate.If a section doesn’t apply to you, you should cross out that section.You will need your name and the name of the person who is abusing you in order to file a petition.You can’t file anonymous.The nature of the relationship will be identified in a section.Marriage, dating, living together, or former spouses are examples.If there are minor children, you have to name them.You have to give an address for the abusive person.It can be difficult, but give the best information you can.Suggestions include his/her work address, immediate family, address of very close friends, or any other place you believe the Respondent may be staying.This information is used by the sheriff’s office.The court can dismiss your protective order if the Respondent is not located.Explain why you need an EPO.Be specific with the dates and locations of the medical care you or the children received.If law enforcement was involved, note it.I called the police after the cop hit me in the face and told me I was dead.I had a black eye and a chip in my tooth.You have to be specific in emotional abuse situations.In front of the children,Respondent constantly screams at me and belittles me.He told me that it would be easier for him to accept my divorce if I died.I am afraid thatRespondent will hurt me because he calls and texts me 20 times a day.One or more of your children have been physically or emotionally abused by the Respondent.
Step 9: You have to complete the petition.
After you have identified the parties and the scope of abuse, the petition will usually have a section about where you’re living and what relief you are requesting from the court.You can ask the judge to keep the other person away from your home.You can ask the judge to grant you temporary custody of the children and forbid the other party from having any contact with them.You can ask the court to keep your address confidential.
Step 10: You can sign the petition.
To show that the petition is the original, sign and date it in blue ink.You may have to have your signature notarized.Most banks will do it for a small fee if the advocacy organization has a notary on staff.
Step 11: You can file the package.
You can file it at the court clerk in the county where you live.Even if another courthouse is close, it must be filed there.Most counties do not charge a fee.
Step 12: Appear before the judge.
You will be given a time to appear by the court clerk.It may be immediate in smaller courthouses.They may have a special docket in the morning or afternoon.You can appear in front of the judge in less than 24 hours.The person not present is called an ex parte hearing.The judge will review your application, put you under oath, and ask you questions.If you don’t understand a question, you need to ask the judge to explain.
Step 13: Receive your medication.
You will be issued an emergency protective order if the judge finds that you have enough reasons to support the order.Don’t leave the courthouse until you have a signed and stamped copy of your EPO.The court will send the EPO to law enforcement.A full hearing will be held in approximately two weeks.
Step 14: Local law enforcement can request a copy of your EPO.
The local police force and the sheriff should get a copy of the EPO.If the Respondent violates the EPO, you will be calling the emergency number.
Step 15: You can give a copy to your children’s school.
The school needs to understand the situation.A list of people who can pick up children from school is an emergency contact list.Unless the judge specifically orders it, some schools may not restrict the respondents from the school.
Step 16: Inform your employer about it.
If you have reason to believe that the Respondent may be violent, you need to tell your employer.Many large companies have a safety plan for you.
Step 17: It’s a good idea to have a copy of the EPO at all times.
It is a good practice to keep a copy of your person in each car that you drive.When you call law enforcement, you want to have a copy of the EPO with you.Inform local law enforcement if you move to another town.
Step 18: Attend the hearing for the protective order.
This will be about two weeks after the event.The person has the right to appear in court if the sheriff was able to locate and serve them.The hearing is usually informal.You should consider consulting with a private attorney if you have reason to believe the Respondent will appear and have a lawyer.They may be able to represent you at the full hearing if you are working with an advocacy organization or legal aid.The judge cannot grant a permanent protective order if the sheriff is unable to serve.For 15 to 30 days, most judges will continue the EPO.Contact the sheriff’s office if you have any information on where the Respondent may be living or working.The permanent protective order will be issued if the Respondent does not show up.For 12 to 24 months from the date of the court hearing, most permanent protective orders have issues.You should distribute copies of the permanent protective order to the same places.If you subsequently file for divorce, you should give your lawyer a copy of the protective order.