If you have been a victim of family violence and are sincerely afraid of your spouse, former spouse, current or former domestic partner, or close family member, you should file for a Temporary Protective Order (TPO). These orders can help keep you safe as you seek to reclaim your future.
How to Obtain a Temporary Protective Order
O.C.G.A. §19-13-3 specifies the guidelines for protective orders in Georgia. If the abuser lives in the state, you must file your petition in the Superior Court of the county where they live. If they live out of state but their abusive conduct occurred in Georgia, you may apply to the Superior Court of the county where you live or where the abuse took place.
Once you file your petition and allege that family violence has occurred in the past and may happen again, the court may issue a temporary order to protect you or a minor in your home from further violence. A hearing will then be held within 30 days to determine whether ongoing protection is needed.
At the hearing, you will be required to prove your allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. Examples include pictures of your injuries, medical reports, and damaged property such as smashed mobile phones or ripped clothing. The alleged abuser will also be given the chance to present a defense. If the judge agrees that family violence has taken place and continues to be a risk, they may extend the TPO for up to three years or even make it permanent.
Once in place, a TPO can impose conditions on the abuser such as:
- Absolutely no contact with you, directly or indirectly. This includes verbal and electronic communications as well as third parties acting on his or her behalf. Exceptions may be made if you need to share information about children you have had together or exchange the children in accordance with a parenting schedule.
- Remaining a certain distance (i.e., 200 yards) away from you, your home, car, workplace, or school.
- Mandatory family violence counseling, substance abuse treatment, and/or mental health treatment.
- Leaving the household or providing you and your children with appropriate alternative housing.
- Making spousal and/or child support payments to you pursuant to a court order.
- Refraining from owning or possessing a firearm
Once you receive a Temporary Protective Order in one county, it is valid throughout the state of Georgia. The Violence Against Women Act also requires other states to enforce the order if you travel. If the abuser violates its terms in any way, their actions may be treated as contempt of court, a misdemeanor, or even a felony.
When you are in need of protection, it’s important to work with an Atlanta attorney who will treat you with compassion while taking assertive and aggressive steps to help ensure your safety. At the Law Office of Judith Delus, P.A., our family law team understands the sensitive and urgent nature of a family violence situation and will help you seek a Temporary Protective Order. Don’t live in fear any longer – call (678) 679-6415 or contact us today.