Temporary Protective Order (TPO)
What is a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)/Restraining Order?
Most people are familiar with a restraining order or have at least heard the term before. In Georgia, a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is essentially the same thing as a restraining order. A TPO is a court order designed to help victims of family or dating violence obtain protection from the individual or individuals who are abusing, harassing, or stalking them. TPOs can help victims in the same way a restraining order does - by prohibiting contact between the party seeking the order and alleged abuser. A TPO may also order the alleged abuser to vacate the family's residence or refrain from visiting a certain place or residence.
How do I get a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)?
Below we have outlined the TPO process step by step from filing to court order. Many TPOs stem from emergency situations. As a result, the TPO process will often times move very quickly.
Filing a Temporary Protective Order
Getting a Temporary Protective Order
Final Hearing & Court Order
To obtain a TPO, the victim, or someone acting on the victim's behalf, must go to the Superior Court in the county where the Defendant (abuser) resides to file a Petition outlining the specific acts of family or dating violence, which have occurred. For more information regarding what constitutes domestic violence in the state of Georgia, see our article titled "Family Violence: Generally." Once the petition is submitted, it will be reviewed by a Judge.
If, after review of the petition, the presiding Judge finds that family or dating violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the Court may immediately issue a temporary ex parte protective order to protect the victim from further acts of violence by requiring the Defendant to stay away from the victim and refrain from committing other acts of family or dating violence against the victim. Once this order is entered by the presiding judge, a copy will be served on the Defendant. The temporary ex parte protective order will either be removed or extended after a formal hearing on the matter has taken place.
Within the next 30 days, the Court will schedule a hearing that both parties must attend. At this hearing, the victim must prove his or her allegations by a preponderance of evidence, and the Defendant will have a chance to present his or her defense. To prove his or her allegations, the victim should bring all evidence, such as pictures of bruises, scratches or other injuries, doctor's reports, audio recordings, and damaged property to the hearing. If the family or dating violence is proven by a preponderance of evidence, the Order may be extended for up to three years; or the Order may be made permanent, if the Court deems it necessary for the protection of the victim.
M&T Practice Pointer
TPOs are very serious - if you believe that your TPO has been violated and you feel that you are in imminent danger, please call 911 immediately.
What can a TPO/Restraining Order do for you?
At a general level, the Temporary Protective Order prohibits contact between the abuser and the victim. In addition, the Temporary Protective Order may provide other forms of relief, such as
- Granting the victim possession of the residence or household to the exclusion of the abuser;
- Requiring the abuser to provide his or her spouse and children suitable alternative housing;
- Awarding temporary custody of minor children and establishing temporary visitation rights;
- Ordering the eviction of the abuser from the residence or household and assistance to the victim in returning to the residence or retrieving his or her possessions from the residence;
- Ordering either the victim or abuser to make payments for the support of minor children pursuant to a court order;
- Ordering either the victim or abuser to make spousal support payments pursuant to a court order;
- Ordering the abuser to cease harassment or interference with the victim;
- Awarding costs and attorney's fees to either party; and
- Ordering the abuser to receive psychiatric or psychological services to prevent future acts of family or dating violence.
M&T Practice Pointer
Once a victim obtains a Temporary Protective Order in one county in the state of Georgia, that TPO is effective in all counties in the state of Georgia.
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