What Are Temporary Protective Orders?
In Georgia, Temporary Protective Orders, or Restraining Orders, are called Family Violence Protection Orders. They offer legal protection against domestic violence, prohibiting an offender from any contact with a victim for the duration of the order. Any person who is found to be in violation of an order can face jail time and additional felony criminal charges, such as aggravated stalking.
Temporary versions of these orders are known as Temporary Ex Parte Orders, or TRO. They are provided for in the Georgia Code’s Family Violence Act, Title 19, sections 19-13-1 and 19-13-2. They are usually effective for a period of thirty (30) days until the Judge can have a hearing and decide if the Protective Order should be in place for another six months, or even a year.
What the Law Says
Section 19-13-1 of the Official Code of Georgia defines “family violence” under Georgia law. It means the commission of any felony or an offense of battery, simple battery, assault, simple assault, criminal property damage, criminal trespass, stalking or unlawful restraint. The act must occur between spouses, ex-spouses, parents of the same child, parents or stepparents and their children or stepchildren, guardians such as foster parents and those in their care, or between any two persons who currently live or formerly lived in the same house.
Section 19-13-2 defines the courts that have the authority to issue protective orders. In cases involving any Georgia resident, the resident’s county superior court has jurisdiction to hear the case. In cases where the Respondent doesn’t live in the state, either the superior court where the person making the petition resides has jurisdiction, or the superior court where the act of family violence allegedly occurred has jurisdiction to issue a Protective Order.
How Do I Get a Temporary Protective Order?
To get a Temporary Protective Order, you need only file a petition with the courts. At this time, a judge will review the petition and determine if they believe you are at immediate risk of harm or in danger. For this reason, it’s very important to be as detailed as possible about the incidence of violence you have suffered, including any and all past incidents, so the judge has the full picture to consider in their decision.
Generally, you can simply visit the Superior Court of your county, where you will be screened to be sure you meet the criteria. You will then be provided forms to fill out to give you the opportunity to explain why you need the order. After you have completed the forms, you will appear before the judge. If you are granted the Ex-parte Protective Order, a hearing will be scheduled, which will take place between two weeks and 30 days later to determine if the order will be extended. At that hearing, the other party will have the opportunity to participate and tell the Judge their side of the story.
What Does “Ex Parte” Mean?
Ex-parte Restraining Orders simply mean Restraining Orders that are issued with the participation of only one person. Essentially, it means that you don’t have to have the approval or participation of the person who is committing the violent or abusive acts to receive a Temporary Protective Order. The intent of these Orders is to protect you until a hearing can be held. Before the Order can be made into a permanent or long-term Protective Order, a hearing must be held where the accused has the opportunity to defend themselves.
Often, Protective Orders will award temporary custody of children to the Petitioner. The Orders can protect your possessions, including property and pets, by ordering the abuser to continue to care for them, as well as to continue paying utilities and other bills, among other protections. Your family law attorney can help you determine which specific protections you need and which your Order will grant.
How Long Will a Temporary Order Last?
An Ex-parte Protectiveemporary Order will last up to 30 days or until your court hearing. If your court hearing is held in another county or is delayed, the Order can be extended, but this often requires agreement by both parties. For this reason, courts usually attempt to schedule hearings quickly. You may, however, need to call upon your Atlanta family law attorney for help to ensure that your protection remains in place as long as you need it.
How Can a Temporary Order Become a Permanent Order?
A long-term or permanent family violence Protective Order can only be issued after the victim and the alleged abuser appear at a court hearing. You will both be given the opportunity to present evidence and tell your side of the story. If the alleged abuser does not appear for the hearing, it is very likely that you will receive the Protective Order for a year. A long-term Order can last up to three years and is usually the first step in extending your temporary Order. A “permanent” Order actually lasts for three years. At the end of those three years, you may still have options available, but you’ll want to speak with your attorney to pursue further remedies.
What If My Abuser Violates the Order?
Hopefully, your abuser will abide by the court’s Order. Sometimes, however, they violate the court’s mandates. When this happens, you need to call upon law enforcement for help. Your first step is to call the police to report the violation of the Order. Explain what happened, and if the police officer doesn’t take action, you can take their badge number and call their superior.
Violating a protective order is a serious offense and can carry felony charges depending on the nature of the violation. Because each situation is unique, it can be a good idea to have help from a lawyer to pursue further action against your abuser if they violate a Protective Order.
Do I Need an Attorney?
You can file for an Ex-parte Order without an attorney, but having a Georgia family law attorney in your corner is always a good idea. If you have applied for an Ex-parte Temporary Protective Order and been denied, an attorney may be able to help you seek protection. The right attorney knows family law and will be familiar with what the courts are looking for, so they can help you explain your case in such a way as to give you the best shot at receiving the protection to which you’re entitled under the law.
In addition, when the time comes to appear at your hearing, it’s usually a good idea to have an attorney by your side. Your attorney can help you prepare for the hearing by gathering evidence of your abuse and helping you to build a solid case that will present your need for a Temporary, Axtended or Permanent Family Violence Protective Order.