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How can I get a restraining order on a former partner?
A restraining order, also known as a protective order, is a court-issued order that requires a person to quit performing certain acts that are causing harm. In most cases, a restraining order is issued in domestic violence cases or in the event of stalking. Anyone who is subjected to physical or emotional abuse, physical threats, stalking or any other type of physical harm can ask the court for an order of protection. Parents can also ask for a restraining order to protect their children from an abusive parent or a bully at school.
How to Get a Restraining Order
Under most circumstances, to obtain a restraining order, you need to make a request to the court for protection. The best way to do this is to contact an attorney that handles family law matters and have them represent you before the court. The restraining order may contain several provisions. These provisions may include:
- Eliminate all contact. This means that the person cannot come near you at any time. The protection order applies to your residence, your car, your place of employment and anywhere that you may be visiting, such as a store or a friend’s home. This also includes contact via telephone text message, email or social media.
- Move out order. The court has the authority to require an abuser to move out of a residence if this gives protection to the victim. This is more likely to occur when there are children involved. This order requires that the person take only their personal belongings and clothes until the court hearing.
- Surrender or prevent them from purchasing firearms. Around 35 states have laws that give the court authority to make an abuser surrender all firearms that they own or prevent them from purchasing firearms.
- Limited contact. In some cases, the court will allow supervised interaction between the abuser and minor children. This will be based on many different factors and local laws.
In some domestic violence cases, law enforcement has the authority to issue a temporary restraining order on an abuser if they believe that further harm will occur to the victim. At that time, the abuser must comply with the restraining order until an official order is issued by the court.
Enforcing Restraining Orders
In most states, enforcement of a restraining order is left to the police until a violation has occurred. If a person violates a restraining order, the police should be notified immediately. If an act of violence has occurred, the police have the authority to detain and arrest the offender. The offender will then have to appear before the court for possible sentencing.
However, some forms of violations can be hard to prove. For instance, a restraining order may also include instructions for the abuser to seek counseling for anger management or substance abuse. Since the victim should not be in contact at all with the abuser, it is hard to tell if that part of the restraining order is in compliance. However, if there is evidence that can be shown without interacting with the abuser, it should be reported as a violation of the terms of the restraining order.
Serious Consequences for Violations
Violating a restraining order can have serious consequences, and the following can happen to the offender:
- The person may not be able to do certain things or go to certain places.
- They may not be able to see their children.
- Their immigration status could be affected, making it difficult for them to get a visa or green card.
If a person breaks a restraining order, they may face jail time or be forced to pay an expensive fine. They could even wind up paying the fine and going to jail.
State laws govern restraining orders, so it is very important that you understand all the laws that apply to restraining orders in your state. Because some laws can be complicated, it is always suggested that you seek legal assistance in filing a restraining order for your protection.
More From Our Experts
- Laura Wasser
Once you do embark upon the separation or divorce process, it is very important to remember three key things: Be kind, be reasonable, be brief. Remember that this person will no longer be your spouse, but he or she will continue to be your co-parent, family member, and perhaps business partner in certain assets or entities.