When an individual has been threatened, harmed, stalked or harassed, she may choose to file a restraining order against her abuser, who may be her spouse or other relative. Restraining orders prohibit abusers from contacting victims and from taking many other actions, such as owning firearms.
When an individual feels that she faces a real risk of injury at the hands of her husband or any other individual, she may petition to have a restraining order put into place against the abusive party. Each restraining order has unique terms, but generally, restraining orders prohibit individuals from contacting their alleged victims, from being within a specified distance of the alleged victims’ homes and workplaces, and from owning firearms and ammunition. Violating a restraining order can subject an individual to criminal penalties including fines and jail time.
Rules for Restraining Orders Vary By State
In nearly every state, it is possible for a domestic violence victim to obtain an emergency restraining order. This type of restraining order may be issued immediately after the victim requests it, with no need for the requester to prove her claim is legitimate or that she is in immediate danger. An emergency restraining order’s duration varies from state to state, but in all cases this type of order does not remain in effect as long as other types of restraining order.
Every state maintains its own laws regarding restraining orders, including their terms and how to obtain them. In Florida, for example, a restraining order is known as an injunction, and an individual can obtain one for protection against anybody who has harassed, threatened or stalked her, regardless of their current or past relationship.
In contrast, the type of restraining order an individual may obtain against another party in New York depends on the parties’ relationship. In New York, an individual may obtain an order of protection from the criminal court against any individual who has harassed, stalked or threatened him, but may obtain an order of protection against a relative or intimate partner only through the family court.
Qualifying for a Restraining Order
The first step in determining whether a spouse can place a restraining order against her husband is to determine whether she qualifies for a restraining order. Although an emergency restraining order typically does not require much evidence to qualify – if it requires any at all – placing another type of restraining order against one’s spouse generally requires proof that the order is being sought in good faith.
Working With the Court
Restraining orders are issued by the court. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, this may be the criminal court or the family court. The forms required to be filed for a restraining order can be obtained directly from the court and in many jurisdictions, downloaded from the court’s website.
Once an individual has filed for a restraining order (other than an emergency restraining order), the court reviews his paperwork and sets a hearing date. At the hearing, both he and his husband may appear in court, with attorneys, to present their reasons why a restraining order is or is not necessary. At this hearing, the individual who filed for the restraining order may present evidence of past abuse, such as domestic violence charges, previous domestic violence arrests and photographs of his related injuries.
If the court determines that a restraining order is necessary to protect the filer, it approves his petition and issues the order. In most cases, a restraining order lasts only for a specified period of time, such as one to five years. In some jurisdictions, like New Jersey, it is possible to obtain a permanent restraining order.
Understanding a Restraining Order’s Terms
In addition to prohibiting an individual from contacting the party who filed for the order, a restraining order can require a husband to move out of a shared home. It can also grant the filing party temporary full custody of the couple’s children.
When a restraining order is in place, all parties named in its terms are required to comply with it. Just like the party against whom the order was filed must avoid contacting the party who obtained it, the individual who obtained the restraining order must also avoid contacting her husband. This includes contact through social media, text messaging or third parties.