You can become safe from your domestic violence abuser in family court. Domestic violence is handled in the criminal and family courts. It is important to know the process of getting a restraining order and protecting yourself and your children.
The process of getting a restraining order in the family courts begins with applying for a temporary restraining order. This is an ex parte proceeding, meaning you don’t have to tell your abuser that you are trying to get an order when you file your paperwork.
There are forms that you have to fill out to get the process started. In it you can ask for various forms of protection – that your abuser not contact you, that they stay away from you, that they move out of the house, etc. In your paperwork, you can also list your children and ask that they be protected, request orders for custody and request child and spousal support. In addition to the above and many other forms of relief, you can also request money for an attorney.
There are areas in the paperwork where you can describe the most recent instance of abuse as well as prior abuse. You have to know how to tell your story well. Additionally, it is important to collect all evidence of abuse, such as pictures of cuts and bruises your abuser caused, to support your story. You don’t want your case to end in a they said/they said situation, though you can get a restraining order based on your story alone – the Court will determine which side’s story is more credible.
Once you file your temporary restraining order paperwork with the Court, the Court will evaluate your story and either grant the restraining in whole or in part or deny it. Either way, you will get a hearing - a chance to present your story in Court.
Once you get the order back from the Court, you will have to let your abuser know you are trying to get a restraining order. Someone other than yourself has to give your abuser the paperwork you gave the Court, the temporary restraining order the Court signed along with a form that tells the abuser when and where the hearing will happen. If you can’t serve the abuser with your paperwork by the time the hearing comes, you can request a “continuance” or second court date that will give you more time to serve the other side.
Once served, your abuser will have the chance to file their own paperwork with the Court, telling their side of the story. Someone other than them has to serve the paperwork on you.
If your abuser is served but doesn’t show up at the hearing, you automatically get your restraining order. Otherwise, the Court will hear both sides and make a decision on whether to award a permanent restraining order or not. These are usually short hearings that are determined mostly on the paperwork each side previously presented to the Court. One side or the other can also request a trial, which is a longer proceeding where each side can present written evidence and live testimony.
At either the short hearing or longer trial, the Court will decide whether to grant the restraining order. If the Court grants the restraining order, it has to determine what relief to grant and how long the restraining order will last. The maximum length of a restraining order is 5 years. Child custody and child support orders can last longer and can last until the child turns 18.
Before a restraining order expires, you can seek a renewal of the restraining order, arguing that you are still afraid of suffering domestic violence from your abuser. The Court will then grant or deny the request at another hearing or trial. The abuser again gets to tell their story if they choose to get involved in the process.
It is so important to get good representation to shape and support your story! Your life and safety depends on this. Reach out to the Law Offices of Jane Migachyov for immediate relief. We are here for you.