How to Collect Evidence to Support Your Restraining Order

Restraining orders are legal remedies designed to keep one individual away from another. Each state applies different standards to the evidence required to support a restraining order request. Follow these steps to learn more about the laws in your state.

Understand Your State's Evidence Requirements

Review the form for requesting a restraining order you obtain from your area court clerk. You may also collect these forms online through the WomensLaw.org Web site (see Resources below) or through an advocate at a local crisis center.

Work with a lawyer or crisis center counselor to correctly fill out the required forms and collect the evidence required to support your case. These trained professionals can help explain what evidence is specifically required in your state when filing for a restraining order.

Gather your paperwork. This can include doctor's reports of injuries received, police reports, photographs of any injuries and certified copies of the criminal record of the individual you are filing against.

Ask anyone who witnessed any acts committed against you to appear as a witness at your restraining order hearing. Ask the court clerk for the correct forms and procedures to subpoena these witnesses if necessary. In many states, courts also accept written statements as evidence.

Collect your thoughts before you enter the courtroom. You may wish to review your evidence and rehearse your case with your attorney or counselor beforehand.

Contact your local police department should the individual named in your restraining order ever violate its terms.

Warnings

  • Children who witness domestic violence may suffer emotionally and psychologically for the rest of their lives. Groups such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence report that men who were witness to domestic violence as children are more likely to commit domestic violence themselves.

Tips

  • Many states may require witnesses to appear on the day of the hearing. This may include police officers who have witnessed behavior relevant to supporting your case for a restraining order.
  • Witnesses have the right to request that their personal information, including address and contact information, be withheld from the open court. Witnesses also have the right to protection from any retaliation an employer might seek should they request reasonable time off to attend the proceedings.