October 3, 2020

This is a photo of a woman looking distraught while sitting on a couch.

This post addresses restraining orders secured where the parties are married, divorced, had a child together, dating or used to date, live together or used to live together or are related within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity.

I know. You are terrified. You summoned every ounce of energy to leave, possibly bringing your kids and your pets with you. Maybe the police were called because of the most recent incident of domestic violence and, if it was outside of Court hours, an emergency protective order was issued. Maybe you are in a shelter. Maybe you are living with family. 

You secured all your evidence such as pictures with date and time stamps, which is absolutely crucial for all evidence: it must have date and time stamps. You secured written statements from witnesses made under oath, medical and police reports, evidence of damaged property and the cost to repair it, made copies of threatening letters, e-mails and telephone messages. You worked with an attorney or a pro-bono law group to put everything together in a declaration. You submitted your request for temporary restraining orders to the judge. Your temporary restraining orders were granted. Maybe the other party was kicked out of your house or apartment as ordered in your temporary restraining orders. Now what do you do?

The first thing you do not do is have any contact with the restrained party. You will undermine the protection of the restraining orders and put yourself at risk of harm. In fact, you must read your restraining orders very carefully to determine what you can and cannot do with the other party. There may be exceptions for child custody. 

If you are overwhelmed and cannot determine what you can and cannot do, contact an attorney. Restraining orders are very serious. They can have a significant impact on the restrained party’s job prospects and Second Amendment rights. Some courts have courtrooms specifically dedicated to restraining orders and law enforcement spend a great deal of time handling domestic violence calls. When you get your order, you want to triple check that nothing you do puts you in a position to undermine that order because a lot of time, effort and money has gone into making sure you are safe and remain safe. Your own life may depend on it.

The restrained party must be served. Either the Sheriff can do it, or a third party can serve the restraining orders. Service is critical. 

Keep the restraining orders with you at all times. Keep a copy in your purse, briefcase, car, your place of residence. Give a copy to anyone else protected by the order. Take copies where the restrained party is ordered not to go such as school, work or child care. I like my clients to take copies to the local police station to make them aware of the issue.

If the restrained party violates the order, the police must be called immediately. The restrained party can be arrested and charged with a crime. 

Stay away from places the restrained party frequents. Why put yourself in that situation? Go to a different supermarket, choose a new way to work, go to different restaurants and coffee shops. Stay away. It may not seem fair as you are not the one who caused the problem, but keeping yourself, your kids and your pets safe is your number one priority.

Remember, the temporary orders are just temporary. They are likely issued by the judge after review in chambers, which means just on the paperwork alone without testimony. The restrained party will get the chance to testify at the restraining order hearing and present evidence. Do not let this deter you. If you are a victim, the courts are well versed and ready to issue orders to protect you. Once you get the permanent restraining order, the steps set forth above are the same steps you follow again. Be relentless in your pursuit of your safety and your peace for yourself, your children and your pets. No one deserves to be a victim.

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This material is provided for educational purposes only. Providing this information does not establish an attorney/client relationship. None of the information contained in this newsletter should be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Should you have questions about the content of this newsletter, please arrange to discuss via a consultation.