If you are experiencing a harassing ex, a restraining order can help. A restraining order is a court order intended to protect victims of harassment and domestic violence from further abuse. They are issued by a judge in a hearing where the plaintiff and defendant are each given an opportunity to present a case for or against the order. In Georgia, a restraining order centered on domestic relations is known as a “Family Violence Protection Order.” This offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both male and female victims. The order prohibits the offender from having contact with the victim for a specified period of time. Under Georgia law, there are two types of Family Violence Protective Orders:

  • Temporary Ex Parte Orders (TRO); and
  • Family Violence Protection Orders

In this article we will highlight the elements of a TRO and how this type of order is granted by the court.

Temporary Ex Parte Orders

Any person, male or female, may file a petition with the superior clerk alleging one or more acts of family violence. If the person who seeks relief is a minor, a petition may still be filed, but must be filed by a person who is not a minor on behalf of the minor. The petitioner will then go before a judge and provide a brief sworn testimony without the other party present as to the grounds that he or she has alleged. If the judge determines that there is a sufficient basis to issue an immediate order of protection, an ex parte TRO will be issued and served on the respondent by the county sheriff’s office.

The respondent is bound by the terms of the ex parte TRO. The order may list certain acts the respondent cannot commit or even the distance between the petitioner and respondent that must be kept. The ex parte TRO will last up to 30 days, or until the next court hearing. The hearing is then put on to decide whether a TRO will be ordered.  

After the respondent is served with the TRO and given notice of the court date, the respondent and petitioner both appear in court for the formal hearing. At the hearing, the petitioner must allege with specific facts that probable cause exists to establish that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur again in the future. The petitioner must prove the allegations of the petition by a preponderance of the evidence. But again, both parties have the opportunity to present his or her case to the judge. Evidence may be brought in to support or reject the TRO.  The court will then issue such relief it deems necessary to protect the petitioner or a minor of the household from violence. As previously stated, a TRO is temporary and will only last up to one year.   

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and need relief, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our experienced team understands the difficulties of this and will discuss with you your legal options. If a TRO is appropriate for your situation, we will advocate for you.