Georgia: Obtaining a Restraining Order

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DIFFICULTY: You can file on your own, but for continued restraining orders it is advisable to seek council.

Initial Fees: $0

Georgia has taken restraining orders very seriously. Many states offer very limited protection through temporary restraining orders and other such decrees, but Georgia has added the Family Violence Protective Order and a separate order for stalking protection. These allow the burden of proof to be even less and help to protect those who are in close proximity to their abuser get away. These all fall under the guidelines of a Civil Restraining Order. All these orders can come in various forms, such as “no contact,” “stay away,” or “peaceful contact.” A person with a restraining order against them cannot own, purchase or possess firearms.

You can file a normal restraining order in Georgia for a myriad of reasons regarding your safety. It can include abuse in the form of:
• physical
• mental
• sexual
• financial
• verbal

These orders start as a temporary protection order until the time of a hearing. Then a judge will decide if the restraining order will stay in place or be removed.

Family Violence Protective orders can be filed against anyone in the family who is placing any other person in the family in danger. This includes parents, stepparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. These orders often require that someone move out of the home until the hearing can determine the validity of the case.

Stalking Protective Orders do not require abuse, just the cessation of being followed or spied on by another person. These orders are meant to protect you from those who are making you or others feel uncomfortable becaue they are invading your space or following your every move. For all temporary orders, a hearing must be held in 30 days to decide whether the order will continue or expire.

A Criminal Protective Order can also be filed, but these are a result of the arrest and conviction of a person. You cannot file a CPO on your own, though you can make a plea to the judge at sentencing of a convicted person.

Step 1: Decide What Type of Protective Order You are Requesting

If you are filing a restraining order against a non family member for abuse you will want to file a standard restraining order. If the person is in your family, you want to choose the family restraining order. This can be helpful in that it can force the person to not be in your home and allows for immediate safety. Stalking for protective orders do not require any proof of abuse or any kind of abuse actually happening. The actions of the other person just need to be threatening and disconcerting.

Step 2: Determine if You are Eligible to File the Request

You must be 18 years or older to file the petition. If you are under 18 you need to find someone willing to file the petition for you. In cases of family violence there are a number of public service agencies that can help you with this. If it is not someone in the family, look to your parents to help you with the filing.

Step 3: Fill Out the Appropriate Forms

You will have to determine what type of form you are filling out. There are different types of restraining or protective orders.
• No contact orders mean there is to be no contact all including electronically, over the phone, text message or in person.
• Stay away orders often force the person to be at least 300 yards away from you at all times and they cannot live in the same home
• Peaceful contact means you can speak with and see the person but there cannot be any threats made. These are most commonly between parents who share custody of children

Cherokee County Forms
Stalking Protective Order

Step 4: File the Forms with the Superior Court

You file the order with the clerk of the court in the county in which the defendant lives. If you live in the same county nothing else has to be done. If the defendant lives out of state, you can file a petition for protection in the county where you live. Of course, you are protected by the order wherever you go. The clerk passes this up to the Superior Court and a temporary restraining order may be put into place prior to the hearing.

Step 5: Attend the Hearing

Both the accused and the protected party are allowed to attend the hearing to present their cases. You should bring any evidence of abuse or harassment that you have to the hearing to further your case. The stronger you case, the longer the order will be put in place for. Restraining orders are not without an end date in Georgia. Some states provide truly permanent restraining orders, but Georgia insists on an end date being assigned to any such order. You can apply for renewal of the order but it will expire.

Step 6: Enforce and Renew the Order as Necessary

You will have to renew the order should the problem persist. This renewal needs to happen before the end date of the order so as to avoid any “down time” or time when the person can make contact with you. If the person violates the order you need to call the authorities immediately. You should not do anything to enforce the order other than call the police. It is their job to ensure the order is followed and you are protected. Do keep a log of any time you have to contact the police for your renewal process and for potential criminal conviction of the defendant.

Additional Resources

Georgia Legal Aid
Habersham County Restraining Orders
Henry County Sheriff’s Office
Victim Assistance