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Order of Protection

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a legal document that is issued by a judge to help protect you from someone that is abusing you.

What Will an Order of Protection Actually Do?

An Order of Protection that is issued by a judge can do much to limit an abuser’s behavior.

  • The abuser can be ordered to leave a residence.
  • The abuser can be ordered to stay away from your place of employment, your children’s school, your family and friend’s homes and other places you may frequent.
  • The abuser can be ordered to not contact you. This can include letters, telephone calls, emails and leaving messages with friends and family.
  • If the abuser violates any order put forth by the judge, he or she will be picked up by police and arrested.
  • The only way to get the Order of Protection changed is for you to personally request it in court.
  • Having an Order of Protection will give you high priority with the police if you call them in an emergency.

How Do I Get an Order of Protection?

You can get an Order of Protection against an abuser in Criminal Court or in Family Court. Most court houses will have an office that provides free legal aid to victims of domestic violence. The free legal aid is provided by attorneys and law students.

Criminal Court requires that an arrest must have been made regarding the abuse. Many times it is easier to get an Order of Protection through Family Court. If you do go through Family Court, this does not mean that your abuser will not be brought up for charges. Family Court is also the place where issues such as custody, visitation and child support is decided.

The first thing you will do is go the courthouse in your area and obtain the petition for an Order of Protection. It is important that you remember to bring identification for yourself, as well as your abuser. This can include your abuser’s photo, place of employment, tag and driver’s licence number and addresses and phone numbers of your abuser’s family and friends.

Next, you will have to fill out the petition. Ask questions if you do not understand what you are reading. You should include details about the abuse you are receiving. If you would like, you can contact a woman’s advocacy group or organization and an employee will come and help you fill out the information. You will need to sign the petition in front of the clerk.

A judge will then look over your petition and ask you questions if he or she feels inclined. Once the judge signs the petition, a copy will be delivered to the abuser via the local law enforcement. You should also keep at least two copies of the Order of Protection for your own records.

Your abuser has 30 days to request a hearing. If no request is made, your Order of Protection is generally valid for up to one year.

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