Obtaining a Protective Order
If you or your children are the victims of domestic violence, our experienced attorneys and paralegals can help you obtain a protective order. This service is provided free of cost, regardless of citizenship status, and on a walk-in basis at one of our two Courthouse locations or at the Family Justice Center located at the YWCA.
To get a protective order you must show that you have been harmed or threatened with harm, and that you are a cohabitant with the other person which includes:
- currently married or divorced
- live as if married
- related by blood or marriage
- have children or unborn child together
- reside or resided in same residence
The protective order process can take between 3-4 hours. During that time you will complete an information packet, meet with a paralegal, and go with a Legal Aid representative to get a Judge to sign your temporary protective order.
The temporary order or ex parte order is valid from when the other person is served the order until the court hearing which will be within 20 days. A Legal Aid attorney will represent you at the hearing where you ask for an on-going protective order.
Protective orders are put in place permanently and can order the other person not to harm or threaten you, stay away from your residence, school, or place of employment, and restrain him/her from having contact with you. Protective orders can also include civil orders that deal with issues of custody, visitation and child support. However, these civil orders are not permanent, they only last 150 days. If your income qualifies under our guidelines, you can apply through the Bridge-the-Gap Program for immediate assistance.
Civil Stalking Injunctions
If you are not a cohabitant with the other person, you may be able to seek a civil stalking injunction. For this order you must show the court that there has been a course of conduct of stalking which means repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity and conveying by words or actions a threat that intentionally places a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or causes emotional distress. You must have supporting evidence than can be copied and attached to your petition including:
- police report of an incident
- transcript of an audio tape
- affidavits (notarized statements) from witnesses
- a log of stalking incidents
The process for a stalking injunction is the same as a protective order. However, because the supporting evidence needs to be attached to the petition, there may be a delay in filing the petition while the evidence is gathered. The temporary or ex parte stalking injunction is valid when served on the other person. The other person has the right to request a hearing. If the other person does not request a hearing within 10 days after being served, the court issues an on-going stalking injunction. If the other party requests a hearing within 10 days of being served, the court will set a hearing within a reasonable period of time and give you notice. On-going stalking injunctions last for three years from the date of service.
Trained staff members develop safety plans and discuss community resources with clients.