Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
LEGAL GUIDANCE FOR ATLANTA RESIDENTS IN FAMILY LAW MATTERS
An important legal tool available to victims of domestic violence is a Restraining Order, by which an abuser can be legally barred from contacting the person or persons he or she has victimized. If you need assistance in obtaining a Restraining Order, family law attorneys at Rowsey & Stelter may be able to assist you. We have proudly served Atlanta residents for over two decades in a variety of family law matters, including those involving domestic violence. Our clients come from communities throughout Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb Counties, including Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, and Roswell.
WHAT CONSTITUTES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Broadly, domestic violence is any harmful interaction between individuals who share a close personal relationship. These include current or former spouses as well as parents, children, step-parents, step-children, foster parents, and foster children. It also may extend to any persons who currently live or formerly lived in the same household, such as a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, roommate, or relative. Another relationship in which domestic violence may occur is between the mother and father of a child, whether or not the couple cohabited or were married.
Domestic violence includes physical, psychological, sexual, or economic abuse, as well as stalking. This means that victims can obtain protection not only from overt acts of physical violence, but from threats or any other conduct that places the victim in reasonable fear that the threatened harm will imminently occur. Normally, domestic violence does not usually relate to an isolated incident unless there is actual physical injury. It often entails a pattern of threats and conduct that causes a victim to experience persistent fear and intimidation.
PURSUING A RESTRAINING ORDER
A Restraining Order, or Temporary Protection Order (TPO), is a legal order issued by a judge that essentially orders a domestic abuser to leave the victim alone or face serious legal consequences. A TPO is issued by a judge at a hearing during which both sides have the opportunity to present their positions. In most cases, the duration of a TPO is up to one year, but it may be extended for up to three years. In some cases, it may be made permanent.
In order to be granted a TPO, you must be able to prove that the person whom you want to restrain has committed acts of domestic violence and that you need the TPO in accordance with the specific conditions requested in your petition.
In order to meet the first element, you need evidence. Although the standard for granting a TPO is lower than what is needed to obtain a criminal conviction, you need more than a mere allegation. Evidence may include eyewitness accounts, testimony of medical professionals, medical records, photographs, and police reports. You can also provide personal testimony outlining specific facts as to what was said and done at particular dates and times.
Furthermore, your petition needs to specify the relief you are seeking, such as:
- Requiring the abuser to refrain from any type of contact;
- Granting you temporary custody of any children, including ordering temporary support and providing terms for visitation;
- Giving you possession of any dwelling currently shared, or requiring the abuser to provide alternate suitable housing;
- Requiring the abuser to obtain counseling; and
- Ordering law enforcement to assist you in recovering personal property.
A TPO will also provide that a violation by the abuser will lead to arrest on criminal charges.
DISCUSS YOUR OPTIONS AFTER AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WITH AN ATLANTA ATTORNEY
Hiring an attorney to represent you when petitioning for a TPO is a wise idea. In domestic violence cases especially, an experienced professional can give you the guidance you need to prepare your case thoroughly and improve your likelihood of obtaining a TPO that specifies with exactness the protection that you need from your abuser. In addition, after you obtain the TPO, your attorney will be able to provide you with critical advice and assistance in taking the steps necessary to make sure it is enforced by a court in the Atlanta area. Contact the divorce lawyers at Rowsey & Stelter at (770) 993-5317, or use our online form to set up a free initial consultation.