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Domestic Violence Restraining Order FAQs

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in which a person acts abusively toward an intimate partner. Behavior is abusive when it's intended to control another by making that person feel intimidated, frightened, terrorized, or humiliated, or by isolating that person from family and friends. Domestic violence can happen regardless of gender or sexual orientation -- anyone could be a victim, and anyone can be an abuser.

The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions about domestic violence restraining orders.

What are the different types of domestic violence?

There are several forms that domestic violence can take. They are:

  • Physical abuse - This may or may not result in external wounds or bruises. Hitting, slapping, and grabbing are all considered forms of physical abuse.
  • Emotional abuse - A pattern of criticism, belittling, or name-calling with the purposed of diminishing another's self-esteem.
  • Psychological abuse - An effort to intimidate another or threaten them with things like taking that person's children or telling others information that would cause embarrassment or humiliation.
  • Sexual abuse - Can involve coercing another into performing sexual acts or treating another in a sexually humiliating way.
  • Economic abuse - Can involve withholding money or resources that another person needs or making another person completely financially dependent on the abuser.

What is a restraining order?

A restraining order is an order issued by a court that applies to an individual that another person has identified as an abuser. Restraining orders generally forbid another person from engaging in certain activities that affect the person who sought the order. It's important to note that restraining orders differ depending on the specific pattern of abuse. Some examples of what a restraining orders can do include:

  • Prohibiting another person from contacting you
  • Requiring another to move out of your home
  • Mandating that a person keep a certain amount of distance from you at all times
  • Awarding sole custody of children

It's important to remember that restraining orders are intended to protect a person from specific abusive behavior, so an order will touch on only those persons and activities that a court has been asked to cover.

Are there different types of restraining orders?

Yes. Different kinds of protective orders can be issued depending on the specifics of a person's situation. The main types of restraining orders are:

  • Emergency Protective Orders (EPO) - This is an emergency order issued by the police when a person cannot petition a court right away, either because the court is not in session or the harm is imminent. An EPO generally expires after 5 days.
  • Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) - This is another type of emergency order issued before the parties have had the opportunity for a formal hearing on the facts of the case. A TRO will generally stay in effect only until a hearing has been held and a judge has made a ruling.
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) - this is a restraining order that takes effect only after the parties have held a hearing on the facts of the case and the person the restraining order would apply to has had an opportunity to defend himself or herself before the judge. A DVRO remains in effect for a longer period of time than either an EPO or TRO, generally several years. A person who wants a DVRO to apply after the deadline must request a new order from the court after another hearing.

A person who violates any one of these orders may be subject to civil or criminal penalties, including fines or incarceration.

Who can get a restraining order?

A person can get a restraining order if he or she has been the target of repeated abusive behavior and in an intimate relationship with another, either in the present or in the past. Such persons can be a current or former spouse or domestic partner, persons living together without a formal legal recognition of their relationship, or persons who have or had a dating relationship whether or not they ever lived together. Parents or relatives can also request a domestic violence restraining order if the facts show the required pattern of abuse. In some states, a person can petition a court for a restraining order once he or she has reached 12 years of age.

How do I get a restraining order?

The places where you can apply for a domestic violence restraining order may vary depending on the state or county you live in. Generally, you can request a restraining order by filing a request at your local courthouse. Sometimes, specific courts-such as a family court-may be a more appropriate place to apply for a restraining order.

If you are facing immediate harm you should call 911 to contact the police. A law enforcement officer should be able to advise you about getting an emergency domestic violence restraining order.

Victim of Domestic Violence? Let an Attorney Help You With a Restraining Order

As you can see, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior, meaning that it will persist until steps are taken to protect the victim. Often times those suffering from domestic violence believe they only have two choices -- stay and endure or walk away. While getting out of a situation may be necessary in many circumstances, the fact is that there are often many different options available. Explore those options and ways you can protect yourself and your family by speaking with a qualified family law attorney in your area.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Contact a qualified family law attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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