What is an Order of Protection?
Your fastest form of legal help is to get a Court Order of Protection. A Court Order of Protection is an official legal notice, enforceable in court, that requires the abuser to stop the violence and abuse.
A protection order is one tool that can help you gain your independence and stop your abuser from hurting you and your children. You should contact a domestic violence advocate and a qualified attorney in your area to discuss ways of ensuring the safety of you and your children, which can include getting a protection order.
What relief does an Order of Protection provide?
Relief available under a Court Order of Protection can be tailored to your specific needs and can address your concerns. It can order the abuser to stay away from you and can prevent him from contacting you by phone, mail, e-mail, fax, or through third parties. It can force the abuser to move out of your home and give you exclusive use of the car. The court may award temporary custody of children to you, along with child support, spousal support, and continuation of insurance coverage. The police can arrest and jail the abuser for violating the order.
How do I get an Order of Protection?
To get a Court Order of Protection: Call the local state’s or district attorney or tell the police you want to get one. They will tell you whom to contact. You will have to go to court.
In court, the judge needs to be convinced that you have been threatened with violence or that you have suffered abuse. Witnesses, including police officers, can help your case. Depending on your state law and how the court applies it, physical evidence is also helpful, but not essential. Physical evidence could include signs of physical abuse such as bruises, photos of physical damage to property (the table he smashed, the hole he punched in the wall), or objects used in an assault (the ashtray he threw, the knife he brandished).
How will the Order of Protection work?
- The order should focus on your specific safety needs. If you have children and are concerned for their safety, you must specifically request custody and visitation restrictions or “no contact” orders.
- You must call the police every time the order is violated.
- You should make lots of copies and carry a copy everywhere, especially if it has custody or visitation provisions.