A Temporary Restraining Order is a civil remedy, as opposed to a criminal remedy. If the police become involved in your case, you may also be entitled to a criminal restraining order, some times called an Order of Protection or a Protective Order, through the criminal court and the police department. A civil restraining order is separate and in addition to “or instead of” a criminal order. You can obtain such an order by contacting the local police department, but typically they are automatically issued by the criminal court after your spouse (or other abuser) has been arrested. Click here for more information on protection orders.
How Should I Prepare to Successfully Obtain a Temporary/Protective Court Order?
Document your legal grounds for applying for an order. When physical violence occurs, file a police report, or go to the doctor and tell the doctor the details about what happened. This will create an account of the severity and frequency of your injuries.
- Take photographs of your injuries as documentation.
- You should document both physical abuse and emotional abuse.
- It is also important to tell close friends, family, psychologist or family therapist when incidents occur. These people will then be in a position to corroborate your claims of abuse and be a witness for you, should that become necessary.
Even if you do not pursue a restraining order at that time, save these materials in a safe place. At the very least, take notes. Two, three, or eight months from now, you may not remember the time, place and date as well as the details of the incident. Unfortunately, you never know when you might need this documentation.
If you have none of this kind of documentation, but feel that you need a restraining order, apply for one anyway. You do not have to have documentation in order to qualify for a restraining order. It helps, but it isn’t necessary in most cases. Click here for another terrific resource.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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- Temporary Restraining Order
- More on Violence and Abuse
- If You are at Risk for Violence
- What if My Child has Witnessed Violence
- I am at Risk for Violence?