When to Get a Restraining Order During Divorce

If you've been the victim of harassment or domestic violence, or you reasonably fear that a divorce will lead to such behavior from your spouse, you may be considered filing for a restraining order. And while a restraining order or order of protection may not always be a perfect deterrent to stalking or abuse, they can provide you with some legal recourse if your soon-to-be-ex violates the order.

There are different types of restraining orders, and different conditions they may come with, as well as different criteria for filing and enforcement, all depending on your specific circumstances and even where you live. Here's a look at getting a restraining order in the context of a divorce.

Types of Restraining Orders

There are a few different kinds of restraining orders that might be available, depending on the facts of your situation:

  • Emergency Protective Orders: Emergency orders can be issued by police if a victim or potential victim can't petition the court right away or the harm is imminent. Emergency orders generally expire after 3-7 days, after the victim has had time to file for a more permanent order.
  • Protection Orders or Restraining Orders: Long-term orders of protection can last one to five years, or even a lifetime. They can also be amended or renewed depending on a change of circumstances or lack thereof.
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Order: Also known as a DVRO, this restraining order only takes effect after all the parties have appeared in court and a judge has had a chance to rule on the facts of the case. A DVRO can remain in effect for several years and may require another court hearing to renew.

Conditions of Restraining Orders

Restraining orders may include several provisions, outlining unacceptable forms of contact or additional conditions of the order. The most common is a no-contact provision, which prohibits the abuser from attacking, hitting, calling, texting, emailing, stalking, or otherwise disturbing the victim, while some orders may permit peaceful contact. Some protection orders may include stay-away provisions, ordering a person to stay a specified distance from another, and may even require a person to move out of a shared home.

Restraining orders can also restrict an abuser's access to firearms or require an abuser to undergo counseling or therapy. And some states will include visitation and custody for children as part of the protection order. These are generally temporary conditions and can be modified by the divorce or other future family court orders.

Enforcing Restraining Orders

If a spouse or ex violates a restraining order, you should contact the police immediately. Even if the violation does not result in arrest, it may be the basis for more stringent conditions in the future. And protection orders issued in one state must be enforced by other states.

Applying for a Restraining Order

If you feel like you are in physical danger, contact the police and request an emergency protective order. If you have more questions about protection orders or wish to file for a restraining order, contact an experienced attorney today.

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