How to File a Protection Order in Indiana

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In Indiana state, a person can obtain a restraining order, or protection order, in civil court by filing a petition electronically. They can get help from a victim advocate on this task. Next, a judge or magistrate will review the petition and make a ruling within the same business day the petition was filed.

This is true as long as the case was filed during the court’s regular hours of operation. A person who has not received notice of a ruling by the end of the next business day should contact the court. A protection order issued after a hearing usually lasts two years, unless a judge decides it should be of a different length. A protection order issued in civil court differs from a no-contact order attached to a criminal case.

Three Types of Protection Orders

Protection orders can be for an individual; on behalf of a child; or to prohibit workplace violence.

  • For an individual: This order is for a person who has been a victim of domestic or family violence, a sex crime, stalking or harassment.
  • On behalf of a child: This order is for a parent, guardian or other representative of a child who has been a victim of family or

domestic

violence, a sex crime, stalking, harassment or sex grooming.

  • Workplace violence: This order is for an employer with an employee who has been a victim of unlawful violence or for an employer who has discovered there is a credible threat of violence in the workplace.

Typically, there are no fees associated with obtaining a protection order. This means the petitioner does not pay a filing fee, a service of process fee, a witness fee or a subpoena fee. A person who has been granted a protection order should carry a copy of the order with them at all times. There is no minimum residency requirement for filing a petition for a protection order.

Working With a Victim Advocate

An advocate can assist a petitioner by preparing and filing the petition on their behalf. Usually, the advocate interviews the petitioner to discover the necessary information. The petitioner aids them by reviewing and editing the forms before the advocate submits them to the court. The petitioner must provide an original signature on papers filed with the court. Most agencies will deliver the signed forms to the clerk’s office for the petitioner.

Instructions for Individual/Child Petitions

The petitioner should make four copies of the petition, one for a worksheet, one for the court’s file, one copy to be served on the alleged aggressor, or respondent, and one copy for themselves. The petitioner will need to know the respondent’s correct name, correct date of birth or Social Security number, and current address.

The petitioner must answer all questions on the confidential form, particularly the questions that ask what the respondent did to inflict abuse or threaten harm and the dates of these incidents. For a petition filed on behalf of a child, the petitioner must provide the name of the child, information about every court case related to the concerns that involve the respondent, and any child they have with the respondent and themselves.

If the Petitioner Does Not Have an Attorney

A petitioner who is not represented by an attorney should provide their public mailing address. This address will not be kept secret. The address on the confidential form will be kept confidential. If a petitioner has made a motion to get a confidential address with the Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) and the court has granted the order, the petitioner may be eligible to obtain a confidential address. The petitioner should sign and date the petition.

Submitting Information from Other Parties

A petitioner who is seeking a protection order based on information provided to them by other people, such as a neighbor, should attach affidavits from those parties to the petition. The parties must have personal knowledge of the facts that support granting an order of protection. Those people will have to appear in court in person as witnesses to testify on the petitioner’s behalf. The petitioner should take all the completed forms and copies to the clerk’s office.

Specific Instructions Regarding a Child

For a protection order on behalf of a child, the representative for the child is called the child’s “next friend.” When the petitioner submits a petition, it is only for the child, not for themselves. The child’s custodian or anyone who has charge of the child should carry the child’s order for protection with them at all times.

For example, the child’s landlord or a security guard at the child’s apartment complex, as well as the child’s doctor, babysitter and after-school program should have a copy of the protection order. The child’s custodian should carry the protection order with them if they and the child are traveling outside the state of Indiana.

Protected Family Members

The judge or magistrate hearing the matter decides who in the child’s household will be protected, based on the names listed on the petition and the confidential form. Only nine protected household members are allowed per order. If there are more than nine household members that must be protected, the petitioner should file a second petition.

Having the Child Appear in Court

The child's next friend should tell the court how many respondents they are filing against. There can only be one respondent per case. If the respondent is under 18 and still lives at home with the child, any court of record can hear the petition.

If a hearing is set, the matter may be transferred to juvenile court, and the child may have to attend. This is especially true if the child is the only person who witnessed the respondent’s conduct.

Instructions for Workplace Violence Petition

In this type of case, the employer asking for the order is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff files a petition against the person who has threatened or committed an act of workplace violence. This party is called the defendant. There will be a court hearing within 15 days of the employer filing the petition.

The specialized order for this type of case is called a workplace violence restraining order (WVRO). The two types of WVROs are a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued without a hearing, which lasts for 15 days maximum and an injunction, an order issued after a hearing which lasts for up to three years.

Workplace Petition Forms

The plaintiff needs at least five copies of each workplace violence form, one for a worksheet, the original to file with the court, a copy to be personally delivered or served to the defendant, and two copies for themselves. They will also need one copy of the confidential form. The petition is a public document.

An employer seeking orders to protect more than one employee should fill out a separate set of forms for each employee to be protected. If they need more space, they should attach additional pages and refer to them in paragraph 20 of the petition form.

When to Seek a Workplace Order

An employer should seek a WVRO if a person has engaged in any of these behaviors:

  • Following or stalking an employee to or from the employee’s place of work.
  • Entering the employee’s place of work.
  • Following an employee during the employee’s hours of employment.
  • Making telephone calls to the employee during the employee’s hours of employment.
  • Sending correspondence to an employee via public or private mail, interoffice mail, fax or email.

Service of Process

A judge or magistrate can issue an ex parte, or one-sided, protection order based on a petition that alleges violence or the threat of violence. This type of order will expire unless a hearing takes place. In order for a respondent to be notified of a hearing, the respondent must be served.

Service of process involves the respondent being provided with a copy of the ex parte order and notice of an upcoming hearing for the order. Typically, law enforcement officers locate and serve the respondent. It is important for the petitioner to provide the court with accurate information on the respondent’s whereabouts. A petitioner who has signed up to receive text messages will receive a text when the respondent has been served.

Time for Serving the Court Order

The respondent must be served immediately after the judge or magistrate has signed the protection order, unless the court specifies a different time for service. The petitioner or plaintiff cannot serve the respondent themselves. Service can be made by a sheriff, sheriff’s deputy or person specially or regularly appointed by the court to effect service.

A person who does not fall into one of these categories can serve legal papers if they testify to the court about the service, act promptly and exercise reasonable care to cause service to be made.

Violation of a Protection Order

If a respondent violates a protection order and the concern is an emergency, the petitioner should call 911. If the incident is not an emergency, the petitioner should note the date, time and place where the incident occurred and obtain the names and contact information of people who witnessed the incident.

The petitioner should then reach out to law enforcement to make a report. The petitioner may also file a motion for contempt of court for the respondent in the court that issued the ex parte order. If the respondent is found to have violated the protection order, a law enforcement officer may arrest them and a prosecutor may file criminal charges against them.

Hearings for Orders of Protection

For a petition based on harassment alone, the hearing must take place within 30 days of the petition being submitted. The hearing must take place before the court will grant any relief. Hearings on all other petitions for protection are set according to the court's calendar.

If the court holds a hearing on a petition, the petitioner should bring all of their evidence to the hearing. Witnesses of the respondent’s conduct must be present at the hearing. If the court issues an order of protection, the petitioner should get enough signed, file-stamped copies from the court clerk for all necessary parties. This includes themselves, respondents, employers and schools.

Getting Legal Assistance

The clerk, the court (judge or magistrate) and other court staff are prohibited from giving a petitioner or plaintiff legal advice. A petitioner or plaintiff may hire an attorney to file for a protection order. A petitioner who is indigent, or cannot afford a private attorney, may be eligible for free legal assistance to file for a protection order from a legal aid organization.

A plaintiff seeking a WVRO should consult an attorney experienced in these matters. Such orders are somewhat distinct from a protection order for an individual or on behalf of a child.

When a petitioner is represented by an attorney, the attorney provides their name, mailing address and phone number at the end of the petition. If the petitioner is not represented by an attorney, the petitioner must provide their own name, mailing address and phone number in this part of the form. The petitioner may, but is not required to, provide a fax number and email address where they may be contacted.