If you have been abused or threatened in Oregon, you can ask the court for a restraining order to protect you and your children. There are different types of restraining orders, which all fulfill a similar purpose: to order the alleged abuser to stay away from you. Every state has its own laws and procedural requirements, so make sure you know what to do to get a restraining order in Oregon.
What Is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order, which is often called a protective order, is a court order made to stop a person from carrying out a particular action, such as abusing, threatening or stalking another person. Violation of a restraining order may result in imprisonment and/or a fine, depending on the state and the circumstances of the case.
Several types of restraining orders are available in Oregon, including sexual abuse protective orders (called SAPO), Family Abuse Prevention Act (or FAPA) restraining orders, stalking protective orders and elderly abuse orders.
A stalking protective order protects you from a person who has made unwanted contact with you or a member of your immediate family or household. An elderly abuse order protects people over the age of 65, or those who are disabled, from someone who is abusing them.
Depending on the type of order, the judge may direct that the abuser refrain from several actions, including to:
- Not enter or attempt to enter your home or place of work, or come within a defined area around your home or place of work
- Not intimidate, molest or interfere with your children and any other family or household members
- Have no contact with you in person, by mail or by phone, text, or email
- Refrain from doing anything else deemed necessary for your protection.
FAPA Restraining Order
A restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act prevents your abusive partner or former partner from hurting or coming near you or your children.
In order to get an FAPA restraining order, you must be at least 18 years old and have been married to, or in an intimate relationship with, the alleged abuser. You can seek a FAPA restraining order against someone you had a sexual relationship with but never lived with as long as the relationship was within the last two years.
The alleged abuser must have hurt you within the last 180 days (not including any period of time he spent in jail or was more than 100 miles away from your home), by physically injuring you, trying to physically injure you, or making you fear that he was about to physically injure you. Using force or threats of force to make you have sexual relations counts as abuse.
You must also be able to prove that the person is a threat to you (and your children, if you have any) and that you are in imminent danger of being hurt again unless the restraining order is issued.
Sexual Abuse Protective Order
A sexual abuse protective order protects you from a person not related to you who made you have sexual contact without your consent.
If you are an adult, you and your alleged abuser cannot be family or household members (in this case, you would seek an FAPA restraining order). The abuse must have happened within the last 180 days, and you must be able to prove that your physical safety is in danger if the order is not made.
If you are a minor, your alleged abuser must be at least 18 years old. The law does not allow a protective order to be filed against a minor, unless the minor is considered to be emancipated, which means she has been married, has entered military service, has a child or is pregnant.
If you're under 12 years old, a parent or guardian must file the request for a restraining order for you, but if you are over 12 years old, you can file yourself. A "guardian ad litem" – a person appointed by the court – is always assigned to a minor to look out for her best interests and make decisions about her case.
Filing for Restraining Order in Oregon
You should make your request for a restraining order in the county in which you live or the county in which your alleged abuser lives.
The forms you need to file for a restraining order are available from your county court clerk's office. Whether you're applying for a Multnomah County restraining order, a restraining order in Lane County, or a restraining order in another county in Oregon, the forms are available to download from the court's website. FAPA and SAPO forms may also be available from women's shelters and domestic violence shelters.
It's important to complete your forms in full, then sign them in the presence of a notary or court clerk, providing photo identification. Notary services may be available at your bank or at the courthouse.
It is helpful if you have as much identifying information about the alleged abuser as possible, such as a photo, home and work addresses, phone numbers, a description and plate number his car and any known history of gun ownership.
Include as much information about the alleged abuse as you can on your petition, using descriptive language for incidents of physical abuse, threatening, stalking, etc. If possible, include details and dates, and information about any witnesses. To give the judge the bigger picture, include information about history of abuse as well as the most recent incidents.
The forms should come with detailed instructions, but if you have any questions, ask the clerk's office. If you are filing for a FAPA order, an advocate from a local domestic violence organization may be able to help you. Filing for a restraining order is free in Oregon.
If you believe you are in immediate danger from your alleged abuser, you can ask for an ex parte order, which is made without giving notice to your alleged abuser (the respondent). An ex parte hearing may take place in person or by telephone, on the day the petition is filed or the following day. The order lasts for one year or until it is withdrawn or amended, but the alleged abuser has the right to request a court hearing. He must do this within 30 days after being served with a copy of the ex parte order.
Service of the court papers is made by the county sheriff personally, unless you choose to serve by a private process serving company or an individual over the age of 18 who is not involved in the case.
If you requested a stalking protective order, a hearing will be set, which is an opportunity for the judge to hear from both parties and decide whether a permanent order should be made. With all other types of restraining orders, a full hearing is held only if the alleged abuser requests it to contest the order.
If a hearing is set, you may get notice of it by telephone instead of in writing. If you are seeking sole custody of children as part of your restraining order, the judge may set a hearing herself. If you don't want to be in the same room as your alleged abuser, you can ask the judge to let you appear via telephone or video link.
If you don't attend a scheduled hearing, your order will probably be dismissed. If the judge makes the restraining order permanent, it lasts for one year and can be renewed in one-year increments thereafter.