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Restraining Orders for Domestic Abuse - Anderson LeBlanc Upland Attorneys

Restraining Orders for Domestic Abuse


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Someone who has been victimized by domestic violence can seek protection through the issuance of a restraining order. This order instructs the alleged abuser from having any contact with the victim. Before a court will issue a restraining order, the victim has to provide reasonable proof that physical abuse has occurred. If issued, the alleged abuser must typically stay at least 100 yards away from the victim.

Purposes for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Individuals who are victims of domestic violence, harassment or stalking can file for a restraining order. This petition must be filed in the courthouse for the county where the victim or abuser lives. The restraining serves as a warning to the abuser to stop violence toward the victim.

Requirements to Obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Each jurisdiction handles requests for domestic violence restraining orders differently. Some require the victim to prepare a petition setting out the reasons why a restraining order is necessary. Others have the victim complete an application that is submitted to the family court.

In order to receive this specific type of restraining order, there must be a specific relationship between the victim and the abuser. The relationship requirement is based on state law. The relationship must usually be one of current or former romantic partners, live-in companions, parents of the same child, a current or former spouse or people who cohabit in the same home.

The actions that provide a basis for a domestic abuse restraining order include the actual infliction of physical injury, the threat to cause physical harm, sexual assault, harassment or stalking in most jurisdictions. Additionally, this action being directed at the victim’s child or other relative may provide the necessary grounds for such an order. Some jurisdictions establish a timeline in which these events must have occurred, such as 180 days.

Orders Included

Domestic violence restraining orders provide a number of instructions. The abuser is often ordered to maintain a specific distance away from the victim’s home, place of employment, child’s school and other designated locations that the victim frequents. Additionally, the defendant may be ordered to hand over any firearms and ammunition that he or she owns to law enforcement. If the alleged abuser needs to gather items from a shared residence, a police escort may be used.

Domestic violence restraining orders can also touch on family law matters, such as providing temporary custody orders, stating which spouse will have control of a shared residence and ordering child support.

Legal Process

After the victim completes the petition or application, the court staff may provide additional directions. Many jurisdictions allow a temporary restraining order to be issued. The alleged abuser must be legally served with a copy of this order so that he or she is made aware of its existence. Legal service may require that the order be hand-delivered to the alleged abuser or served by the local sheriff’s office. The person who serves the alleged abuser must file a declaration of service with the court.


A hearing is scheduled for the victim to establish the continued need for a domestic violence restraining order. The alleged abuser has the right to put on a defense to the victim’s allegations. Both parties have the right to have legal counsel present their case.

During the court hearing, the victim must submit evidence that provides reasonable proof of abuse. Evidence may include medical records that were made after the victim was physically abused, police reports regarding alleged abuse, witness testimony, photos of injuries, copies of threatening communications or other evidence that supports the victim’s contentions.

If the victim fails to appear at the hearing, the request can be dismissed unless he or she informs the court of some type of emergency that prevents him or her from appearing.

Length in Effect

Restraining orders typically last for one year after they are issued. However, the victim may be able to have the restraining order renewed for an additional year if the renewal application is submitted before the original order expires.

Violations of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

If the alleged abuser violates the terms of the domestic violence restraining order, the victim should contact the police immediately. The alleged abuser may be subject to jail time, probation or other penalties. He or she may be held in contempt of court for violating the judge’s order. If a domestic violence victim no longer believes the restraining order is necessary, he or she can ask the judge to drop it.

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