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How to Get a Restraining Order

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Whether you're a victim of harassment, stalking or domestic violence, you may be entitled to a restraining order, requiring your harasser to refrain from contacting you.

Unlike some legal processes, you can easily obtain a protective order without an attorney. Here's how.

Restraining Order Step 1. From your state court's website, or the local branch, obtain a petition for a restraining order and an affidavit. Fill out both forms thoroughly, telling your story as specifically as possible. Use dates, times, witness names, and any other relevant details.

Restraining Order Step 2. File these forms with the court administrator (or clerk of the court) and pay the fee. If you cannot afford the fee, ask for a fee waiver form.

Restraining Order Step 3. Most states will issue a temporary restraining order on the same day of filing. It is only effective until the hearing, the date of which will be set by the court.

Restraining Order Step 4. You must then notify, via service, your harasser of the temporary protective order and the hearing.

Do not do this by yourself. Ask the court administrator how you can request service from the local Sheriff's office. Make sure to follow up with the Sheriff to verify delivery.

Restraining Order Step 5. Show up at your hearing. While attorneys for both parties are permitted to attend, if you choose not to hire one, bring witnesses and documents to support your allegations. If you don't bring evidence, a permanent protective order will not be granted.

If you need help along the way, many state courts hold free restraining order clinics where legal volunteers will answer questions. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may also be able to take advantage of other free legal services via a local clinic.

Contact your local legal aid organization to see what resources are available in your area.  

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