If you believe you might in physical danger as a result of domestic violence, it is important that you understand your options to protect yourself and your children. Remember you should always call 911 if your safety is in danger. If an act of domestic violence has occurred, you should go to the Superior Court in the county where you and your spouse or partner live to begin the process of getting a Temporary Protective Order "TPO." TPO's can be a valuable tool to provide you immediate protection and safety by prohibiting contact. You will speak with a judge when you go to the courthouse who is able to enter a 30 day order without your partner being present. The court will schedule a hearing within those 30 days for the judge to hear from both you and your spouse. The judge can then enter another protective order which will generally be in place for 6 months or one year. The TPO can include a variety of terms to ensure you are safe and have a secure place to live. For example the TPO can:
Direct your partner to refrain from further acts of violence;
- Grant you possession of your home and excluding your partner from the home;
- Require your partner to provide you suitable alternate housing if you leave the home;
- Assist you in returning home if you left after the act of violence;
- Order your spouse to make payments for support for you and your children;
- Order your spouse to refrain from harassing or contacting you; and
- Order your spouse attend counseling sessions to prevent future acts of family violence.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, there are resources available to you, and you should seek immediate assistance. A lawyer can offer you legal advice to assist you through the process, and ensure you know all of your rights and options.
By: Deborah B. Koslin, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC