A protective order is a document issued by a court to help you protect yourself from someone who is abusing or harassing you. A protective order is commonly referred to as a Temporary Protective Order, or TPO. TPOs are enforceable only after they are personally served on the defendant. There is no charge to apply for a TPO. This order will generally state that someone is prohibited from having contact with you. Only persons who have certain relationships can file for relief under the Family Violence Act. Those relationships include persons who are past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, and persons living or formerly living in the same household. Stalking victims - persons who have been followed, placed under surveillance, or been contacted by another without their consent and for the purpose of harassing and intimidating them - can petition for relief under the Stalking Statute.
A PROTECTIVE ORDER DOES NOT STOP BULLETS OR KNIVES.
Click here to CREATE AND FOLLOW A SAFETY PLAN .
A protective order can:
· Direct a party to refrain from acts of violence.
· Grant a spouse possession of the residence or household and,
· Order assistance in returning to the home or retrieving personal property.
· Exclude (evict) the other spouse from the residence or household.
· Require a party to provide alternative housing for a spouse and child(ren) .
· Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights.
· Order a party to pay child support or to pay support to the other spouse.
· Award possession of personal property to the parties (ex: automobiles).
· Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other.
· Award costs and attorney's fees to either party.
· Order parties to undergo psychiatric or psychological counseling.
Every Law Enforcement Officer in every state and Indian tribe MUST enforce the provisions of a valid Protection Order. This includes Protective Orders issued in other states.
It is important to always keep a copy of the order with you and to contact the police immediately if the order is violated. Get extra copies for family, day care, neighbors, etc.
THERE IS NO CHARGE TO APPLY FOR A TPO.
There must be a recent act of physical abuse or threats of violence and/or harm & THE ORDER MUST BE FILED IN THE COUNTY OF RESIDENCE OF THE BATTERER.
Forms must be completed by the victim (you do not need an attorney to file for a TPO but you can hire someone to represent you in this action).
You must go before a judge and swear that the information in the petition for the TPO is true. If granted, the judge will sign the order making it effective for 10 days.
The Sheriff will serve the batterer with the order.
Within l0 days, both you and the batterer will go to court for a hearing where the judge will hear both sides and may extend the TPO for up to six months. It is important that you tell the judge all you can during this hearing so he/she will fully understand why you need a TPO.
If the batterer violates the TPO, the batterer can be held in contempt of court and may be arrested.
Keep a copy of the TPO with you at all times.
TPO court is held weekly in Gwinnett Superior Court. You will be given notice when you need to appear in court.
When in court, if you feel unsafe with the batterer there, please tell one of the Sheriff's Deputies and every effort will be made to keep you safe. The batterer can even be prevented from sitting beside or near you and can be monitored in the courtroom giving you time to leave. You can be escorted to your vehicle.
If the batterer has been ordered to stay away from you, but still tries to contact you by phone, in any way whatsoever, document (journal/log) and keep all evidence of violations such as photos, Caller ID information, phone records, cards, letters, etc., and report these violations immediately to the police. In order for the protective order to be made permanent, a motion must be filed with the Superior Court Civil clerk a month or so before the order is due to expire.
For more information, filing instructions, and forms, visit the Gwinnett courts web site http://www.gwinnettcourts.com/home.asp#familyviolence/. Forms to file Temporary Protective Orders are also located in the Office of the Clerk of Court.
If you need assistance filing a Temporary Protective Order contact the Partnership Against Domestic Violence at 770/963-9799, the Gwinnett Pro Bono Project at 770/822-8599 or Victim Services in the Solicitor's office at 770-822-8300.