Restraining orders are an effective means to keep those who would harm you away. Discover how to file a restraining order here to ensure your safety.
Have you ever wondered what causes someone to get a restraining order? Perhaps since you’re reading this post, you already know.
Domestic violence is the primary reason people seek restraining order. Often, it’s inflicted by a partner or spouse.
Stalking and invasions of privacy are the next reasons. Sometimes, it’s all of the above. Over half of those who filed restraining orders for domestic violence also reported being stalked.
If you or someone you love is harassed, threatened or harmed by another person, it’s important you know how to legally get assistance.
Here’s how to file a restraining order and where to get the help you need.
How to File a Restraining Order
There are several steps to obtaining a restraining order. But essentially, you fill out paperwork, attend a court hearing and get the judge to approve your request.
Of course, each step includes more details and can vary slightly depending on the state you live in.
1) Obtain Restraining Order Forms
Restraining orders are issued by state courts. If you’re not sure where that is in your state, search online for “restraining order – (your state).” Or contact a domestic violence center near you. If your located in Omaha, Nebraska click here for a list of local Domestic Violence Abuse Shelters that can help you.
If this is an emergency and you’re in imminent danger, call 911.
2) Complete Forms and Gather Evidence
Once you get the restraining order forms, fill them out with your personal information, the abuser’s details and the reason you must file a restraining order.
In legal terms, this is known as a restraining order petition and affidavit.
Additionally, gather evidence to support your petition. They’ll help convince the judge to approve your petition. The types of evidence you might bring include:
- Pictures of any injuries inflicted on you recently or in the past
- Messages with threats or that demonstrate harmful intent
- Previous police arrest reports
- Medical records of past injuries
- A witness willing to testify in court for you
If you want the restraining order to protect your children or any minors, you’ll also need to bring:
- All the items listed above about the minor(s)
- Birth certificates of the children or minors you hope to protect
- Documents that prove you’re their legal guardian if you’re not their parent
3) Wait for Your Court Hearing Date and the Abuser to Be Served
After you submit your restraining order forms and supporting documents, the court will process them and notify you of your hearing date.
Depending on where you live, such hearings usually occur within two weeks from the day you file your petition. But if you sought an emergency restraining order – sometimes called an Ex Parte Order – the hearing should be within days.
If you are in immediate danger, let the court clerk staff know and they’ll help you arrange ways to stay safe and protect yourself while you await your court date.
At this point, the abuser you filed the restraining order against is served. They’re notified of your petition and they’re required to attend the court hearing.
If the police couldn’t serve the abuser or if the abuser won’t attend the hearing, you’ll likely be granted the restraining order.
4) Attend Your Court Hearing
Bring copies of your paperwork and documents on the day of your hearing.
You’ll testify before the judge about why you need a restraining order against the abuser. The abuser also gets a chance to speak.
If you lack the confidence to testify or if you’re afraid to speak in the presence of your abuser, you can hire an attorney to speak on your behalf.
In most cases, you must attend your hearing. There are exceptions, but you’ll need special or medical reasons to show why you can’t attend.
If you don’t attend, it also can hurt your petition.
5) Await Judge’s Decision
After your court hearing, the judge should make an immediate decision about your petition. If it’s approved, the limitations imposed on your abuser are explained to them, as are the consequences if they break them.
In most states, restraining orders are usually enforced for five years. After that, they’re dropped unless you file for renewal.
A restraining order is a powerful form of legal protection but it can’t guarantee your safety from your abuser. They can still choose to approach you, but to do so breaks the law and they’ll be punished accordingly.
Keep the restraining order with you all the time. If your abuser continues to harass you, notify the police right away. Don’t try to resolve the situation by yourself.
Get the Help You Need
Restraining orders were created to protect us from people who seek to harm us. This includes both physical and psychological harm. If you’re threatened or hurt and you told the person to stop but they refuse, it’s time for legal action.
Keep this article with you as you figure out how to file a restraining order. And remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. We can help you.
Call (402)415-2525 today! We’ll give you a free consultation to get you the protection you need and deserve.