When Is It Time to File a Restraining Order?

If you have been or are the victim of abuse then it is important that you take care of yourself.  If you have a minor child who has been the victim of abuse then you need to get help for your child as well.  Knowing when the right time is to file the restraining order is important and varies based on the situation.  In most situations you are going to want to file the order before you end the relationship (whether it be a dating relationship or a friendship that has taken a violent turn), but you should be ready to end the relationship immediately after filing.  You generally do not file an order unless you are willing to leave the person and end the abusive relationship that you have.

Many people are confused about who they can get restraining orders from.  Here is a short general list of the people that you can obtain a restraining order for.

  • A Spouse (or Former Spouse)
  • The Other Parent of Your Minor Child
  • A Person You Are Dating (or Used to Date)
  • A Person Who Lives in Your Home (or Used to Live in Your Home)
  • A Person Related to You by Marriage, Adoption, or Blood

 Steps to Obtain an Order of Protection

 Of course there are some steps that you are going to need to take in order to obtain the order.  By following these steps you are more likely to get the order approved and not denied.  In some cases, when there is not enough evidence against the accused, the restraining order can be denied which could put you at greater risk of abuse or violence.

 Step 1 – Go to the Courthouse

The first thing that you need to do when you want to file a restraining order is go to the courthouse in the county where you live (or where the violence occurs if it is happening at work or another place that is not in your home county).  If you do not want to go to the courthouse alone there are often victim’s rights representatives that will go with you.  There are domestic violence shelters and crisis centers in nearly every city and town and they are generally easy to locate by calling the police.

 Step 2 – Fill Out All Paperwork

Depending on what state that you live in, the paperwork can vary.  Make sure that you specify why the order is needed.  Be sure to include fact and stay away from emotions.  If there have been witnesses, police reports, or incidents with child protective services make sure that you include all of this paperwork when you apply. 

 Step 3 – Go Before the Judge

Once you have all of the paperwork filled out, you are going to need to go before the judge.  When you do this it is a great idea to take a picture of the accused with you.  In addition you might want to have a witness with you.  The judge will either issue or deny a temporary or emergency order.  Either way there will be a future court date that you must attend and that is where the permanent order will be approved or denied. 

If you obtain a temporary order make sure that you keep very accurate notes of any interactions, phone calls, or letters/mail that is sent to you by the accused.  Also make sure that you take photographs if you see them outside of your home or where you work.

If you are obtaining a restraining for you and your child(ren), the judge may appoint a Guardian ad Litem for your child(ren). This way, their best interest is a priority as well. 

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