Are you being harassed or abused by someone? Has that person hurt you, and you fear future harm? If so, then filing a restraining order is one step in protecting yourself from further harm. If you use it as part of a comprehensive strategy, you can break free from the current cycle of abuse that you are in.
Most people who file a restraining order either live with the abuser or are trying to get away from the individual they are seeking protection from. One of the first steps in getting a restraining order and finding safety is to get away from the person. Even if it is only long enough to get the order, that is a beginning.
The specific steps to file a restraining order will depend in part on where you live. The laws governing restraining orders can vary from one state to the next. However, there are some commonalities that can be used to give you an idea of where to go for help.
It is essential to keep the abuser from knowing about the restraining order until it has been filed. If he knows that it is impending, you might be further harmed. After all, the person likely doesn’t want to go to jail.
If you can do so without the abuser finding out, look online to find out when and where your courthouse processes restraining orders. Have someone else look into the matter if you can’t do it yourself. The county government website will provide you with pertinent information regarding filing restraining orders.
Women’s safety centers are another option for information and assistance. Many of them also have shelters for those seeking escape from an abusive relationship but that have nowhere to go. However, you should never assume that they have a local residence and opening. In some cases, you might need to wait or go to another city for shelter.
Most courthouses hear restraining orders first thing in the morning. You will need to arrive at the courthouse early, bringing along proof of your identity and any information that you have that is relevant to the case.
Generally, they will have someone there whose job is to assist folks in filling out their orders. However, this person is not there to give you legal advice, tell you how to word the document or otherwise influence your case. Their job is simply to be sure that you have filled in all of the appropriate boxes on the application. Additionally, they will remind you about rules of the courtroom, such as keeping your cell phone turned completely off. If it rings, you might be held in contempt of court.
The more prepared you are for filing out the paperwork, the better off you will be. When you are in a safe place to do so, start recording the instances where physical abuse has taken place in the past three to six months. Generally, they only consider the previous three months. However, some communities have a longer period of time on their requirement sheets.
You will need to list every instance that you can think of during the time frame. It is important that you are as specific as possible regarding your physical injuries and the emotions that you felt at the time. The purpose of a restraining order is to protect you from someone who has a record of doing you physical harm. You should never use it just to get back at an ex or to resolve other situations.
Once you have the paperwork filled out, the next step is to go into the courtroom. When the time comes, the judge will review your documentation and ask questions of you before rendering a decision. Although you might be frightened, angry or have other extreme emotions, try to curtail those during the hearing. Focus on facts because that is how the court proceedings work.
Pay careful attention to what the judge tells you regarding the order. If you have provided sufficient proof, the judge will approve your order. However, that doesn’t mean that you have a permanent restraining order. This temporary document will become permanent if the other party doesn’t contest it within the allotted period of time.
If the other party chooses to contest the order, you will have to face him in court. There, you will both have the opportunity to present your side of the story to the judge. Then, the judge will make a final decision based on the facts presented. If you have any medical documents or additional verification of the things that have happened, it can further bolster your case.
In some cases, the abuser will file a restraining order against their victim, blaming them instead of accepting responsibility. Don’t panic if this happens. Judges are accustomed to this kind of thing happening. If it does, stay calm and stick to the facts.
You might consider hiring an attorney family law near me, to help you with the process. In addition to the legal implications of the entire matter, an attorney can help to ensure that you are able to present yourself in the best way possible for the hearing to ensure that your abuser doesn’t succeed at getting the upper hand.
For those who cannot afford an attorney, legal aid is sometimes an option. While they cannot provide the same services as a paid attorney, they can still guide you in essential ways that will benefit you and the outcome of your restraining order case.
Once the paperwork has been filed and approved, you should have copies made so that you can provide them to the appropriate agencies, such as the DHS office and women’s resource centers. Always keep one on your person to show to officers should the abuser attempt to speak to you out in public.
Being caught up in a destructive abusive relationship can be frightening. However, you don’t have to remain in fear of the abuser. Instead, you can begin taking a proactive stance by getting a restraining order and reclaiming your life!