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How might a domestic violence restraining order help me?

You might benefit from filing a domestic violence restraining order if you are being abused by someone in your family or household. Domestic violence involves someone trying to control you with physical violence, threats of physical violence, putting you down or making you afraid.

Domestic violence can include physical, sexual, emotional or economic abuse. However, to successfully receive a restraining order there usually needs to be a component of physical abuse or fear of physical abuse.

For example, you may not receive a restraining order based on threats to take your children, emotional abuse or damaged property, unless you feared that you would be physically injured. To get a restraining order, you must show that in the last 180 days the abuser has physically injured you, attempted to physically injure you, made you fear that you would be physically injured, or used force or threats of force to make you have sexual relations against your will.

What can a restraining order do?

If you are being physically abused or living with the threat of physical abuse, a domestic violence restraining order may provide you relief. A restraining order can:

  • Require the abuser to move out of a shared residence
  • Set a temporary custody and parenting time requirement
  • Require the abuser to stay away from areas your family frequents, such as work or school
  • Prohibit the abuser from contacting you
  • Require the abuser to pay rent or other costs associated with your safety or your child’s safety
  • Prohibit the abuser from owning firearms

What type of relationship may qualify me to receive a restraining order?

Only people with close relationships to their abuser can file for this type of restraining order. To obtain this type of relief, you must have a family or household relationship with your abuser.

Examples of this type of relationship include if:

  • You are the current or former spouse or domestic partner of the abuser
  • The abuser is an adult with whom you had a sexual relationship while living together
  • You have had a sexual relationship with the abuser for the last two years
  • The abuser is an adult related by blood, marriage or adoption
  • The abuser is the parent of your child

You can file a restraining order during your divorce or legal separation, but you do not need to seek divorce or legal separation to get a restraining order. If your abuser violates the terms of the restraining order, you can call the police. This could lead to the abuser being found in contempt of court, which could be punished with a fine, probation or jail time.

On its own, a restraining order may not guarantee your safety. However, a domestic violence restraining order can be one of several steps you take to ensure you and your children are protected from violence.

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