To obtain a family violence protective order in Georgia, the victim must file a Petition in the Superior Court of the county in which the defendant resides. OCGA §19-13-2(a). If the defendant does not reside in Georgia, the Petition may be filed in the county in which the victim resides or where the family violence occurred. OCGA §19-13-2(b). (Figuring out whereto file when the defendant lives out of state may be complicated so, if you are unsure, consult an experienced family law attorney.)
The Petition for protective order must allege one or more acts of family violence. OCGA §19-13-3(a). If the Judge finds that “probably cause exists to establish that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future,” the Judge may issue a temporary protective order to protect the victim from any further acts of violence. OCGA §19-13-3(b).
Within the next 30 days, the Court will schedule a hearing, which both parties will attend to make their case for why the protective order should or should not be extended. OCGA §19-13-3(c). As in all other civil cases, the victim must prove the allegations in his/her petition by a preponderance of the evidence. To prove his/her case, the victim should bring any and all evidence of the violence to the hearing including, but not limited to, pictures of injuries, damaged property, doctor’s reports, and witness statements.
If the victim proves his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence, the court may extend the protective order for a longer period of time. At that time, the court may also address concerns of child custody and support during the pendency of the order.