- by Anne Sanford
In situations involving domestic violence, one of the most important legal tools available to those who have been abused is the temporary restraining order (“TRO”). These orders are what is commonly thought of as a “restraining order”. By preventing contact between the abuser and the victim, temporary restraining orders serve to break the cycle of violence and prevent harassment outside of the home.
For anyone who has experienced physical abuse, intimidation, threats of violence or any other form of domestic violence that provides grounds for obtaining a temporary protective order (TPO), it is important to seek legal help right away. Understanding how to get a restraining order will give you the knowledge and power to keep you and your family safe. Georgia has a specialized TPO designed to protect those within certain relationships (i.e. past or present spouses, parents to the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children of persons lining or formerly living in the same household); this is a family violence protective order. There are special procedures for obtaining domestic abuse protective orders, and you may be able to obtain emergency relief the same day you file your petition with the court without the abuser being present in court.
Obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order in Georgia
The process of obtaining a temporary protective order is fairly straightforward, and several jurisdictions in Georgia (including Cobb County) provide free online resources to help victims of domestic violence file on their own TPO. However, while the process may be straightforward, due to the requirements that must be met, the time-sensitive nature of filing for a TPO, and the need to ensure that you obtain appropriate protection for your unique personal circumstances, it is in a domestic violence victim’s best interests to seek legal representation. An experienced domestic violence lawyer will also be able to advise you of any other steps you can take to protect yourself, your children and any other loved ones affected by the harassment or abuse.
The basic requirements for obtaining a temporary protective order include:
- Preparing a petition for a temporary protective order;
- Filing your petition in the appropriate Superior Court (this should be the court serving the jurisdiction in which the abuser resides); and,
- Demonstrating to the judge that you have been subjected to domestic violence and that there is probable cause to issue a TPO (the abuser does not need to be present).
Long-Term Protection from Harassment and Abuse
Temporary protective orders generally last for 30 days. The judge will schedule another court date before your TPO expires, and this will be your opportunity to seek long-term protection from further harassment and abuse. During this court appearance, your spouse, domestic partner, or other cohabitant who is subject to the TPO will have the opportunity to appear and challenge your allegations. Whether it is abuse or harassment-based restraining order, it is best to be represented by an attorney to ensure that you have every opportunity to obtain the protection you need.
All forms of domestic violence are serious, and the law is designed to protect those who have been harassed and abused. If you would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to contact our firm promptly for a confidential consultation.
Speak with an Attorney at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
To speak with a domestic violence attorney at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, please call (678) 971-3413 or contact us online.