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What is a Restraining Order?

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A restraining order is issued by the court and is used to keep a victim safe from abuse. Restraining orders are also known as peace orders, protective orders,personal protection orders, police protection orders and protection from abuse orders. Though most commonly used in domestic violence situations, restraining orders can be issued to prevent or stop certain behaviors including harassment, stalking and sexual assault.

In all states, restraining orders can be requested to keep an abuser away from the home, even if the abuser owns the home, the victim’s job site and the victim’s school. Restraining orders can also protect a victim by giving them control over certain assets like cars, bank accounts, and even temporary custody of children. Provisions can be included to protect victims across state lines.

Applying for a Restraining Order

A victim applies for a restraining order by completing an Application for Relief for Abuse, an Affidavit for Relief, an Affidavit Concerning Children if children are involved, and a Nondisclosure request if an address needs to be protected. These forms can be obtained through local law enforcement agencies, domestic violence programs, attorneys, and local courthouses. The forms must be notarized, and then submitted to the court clerk who will present them to the judge. Temporary restraining orders can be implemented the same day they are filed, if circumstances warrant, while regular restraining orders become effective after the abuser has been served and both parties are seen in court, usually within 14 days.

Emergency Restraining Orders

A victim can request a court appearance for a temporary restraining order if they are in immediate physical danger. The applicant must appear in court, however the other party does not need to be present. This type of appearance is known as an ex-parte appearance.

Cost of Restraining Orders

There is no cost for filing a restraining order, and the cost for an officer to serve the order is picked up by the state in which the application is filed.

How do Restraining Orders Work

Once in effect, the order prevents an abuser from making contact with the victim by phone, mail, email, notes, flowers and gifts. The abuser is not allowed to make contact through friends or family members. If the abuser ignores the provisions listed in the order, he or she can be arrested.

A restraining order does not affect an abusers record, unless it is violated.

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