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Domestic Violence and Temporary Restraining Order FAQs

What is a restraining order?

A restraining order is intended to protect victims of harassment and domestic violence from further abuse. There are two types of restraining orders: Family Violence Protection Orders provide protection when a family member is harming or harassing you. Stalking Protective Orders are issued when someone unrelated to you is harassing you.

What is domestic violence and how does Georgia law define it?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior demonstrated in an attempt to gain power and control over another person. This can include physical, verbal/mental, psychological/emotional, or sexual abuse. Georgia law defines domestic violence as any felony, simple battery, simple assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint and criminal trespass. State law also requires that the abuse occur between persons currently (or formerly) living together, or between parents of the same child.

What can I do to protect myself legally if I am being stalked or abused?

You can file for a Protective Order or divorce if you are married to the abuser in a Superior Court.

How do I apply for a Protective Order?

Applying for a protective order requires filling out a document that will state the details of what has transpired and what you want the court to do about the occurrence. If you need help filling out this document, you can seek aid from someone in the Clerk’s Office (where you obtain the form), a domestic violence shelter advocate, or victim/witness advocate.

What happens when I file a Protective Order?

After the petition is filed, you will see a judge who may award you a temporary protective order before a set hearing. The hearing will take place within thirty (30) days after filing your petition. At the hearing, the judge will hear both your statement and the statement of the accused party and will then decide whether to grant a Temporary Protective Order and for how long, up to twelve (12) months.

What if the Order is not obeyed?

If a Court Order is not obeyed on part of a party, they can be found in contempt of court. They can also be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

Can the order last longer than 12 months?

Yes, if you file a Motion before the Protective Order ends, the Court can grant a three-year or Permanent Order after another hearing.

What does the Order do?

A Protective Order requires the person who abused or stalked you not to abuse, stalk or contact you and can require the person to leave your home. It can also grant you custody of your child(ren), child support, temporary use of property, etc.

Do I need a lawyer to file an Order?

While you do not need a lawyer to file a Protective Order, you will need a lawyer to protect your best interests at the scheduled hearing.

What if I am falsely accused?

If you have been served with a Protective Order, you will need an attorney to represent you at the hearing and protect your rights. Since a Judge will hear both your testimony and the opposing party’s testimony, you will have the chance to dispute the charges brought against you. The Judge will then rule on whether to dismiss the charges or grant the Order.