In Georgia, if you are a victim of family violence or if you are being stalked, you can seek a Temporary Protective Order (“TPO”) from a court. Sometimes a TPO is called a “restraining order” or a “stay-away order.” Either way, they are used to provide some relief to a victim who is scared and needs protection. They exist to help prevent an on-going and potentially dangerous situation.
Protective orders are exactly that - orders by a Georgia court to prohibit an alleged abuser from having contact with the victim. In Georgia, there are 2 types: family violence and stalking.
If you live with the abuser and they are your spouse/significant other or relative, you would seek a “Family Violence Temporary Protective Order.” If, however, you are seeking protection from an abuser who is not family and does not live with you, and they are stalking, following, or harassing you, you would seek protection under a “Stalking Temporary Protective Order.” So it's important to know which order to seek, what must be proven, and the parameters of the protection.
Since these situations are often complicated, emotially fraught and unsafe for the victim, the courts can issue an “ex-parte” (ex-parte means only one party appears before the court) temporary protective order to have the other party removed from the home before coming back for the official hearing. While a family law attorney can help you with this, many courts offer victim services to help file the petition for the initial “ex-parte” order. Once that is in place, you will have to return at a later date to have a hearing before the judge to get a full 12-month (or longer) protective order.
Make no mistake: Temporary Protective Orders are not a criminal action; however, they can show up in a criminal background check. TPOs are very serious, and the judge has wide discretion when issuing a protective order. What's more, and this is very important, the judge even has the ability to order temporary financial support, child custody, and/or child support to the victim. So many issues that are normally handled through a divorce proceeding can be taken care of, at least initially, at a TPO hearing. So it's vital you have a local and good family law attorney on your side. Often, people feel trapped in their abusive situation due to the financial aspect, so knowing the judge has the power to order support is incredibly important and useful.
When you need help with a TPO, we'll be here for you. Just call us at (678) 712-8561. Attorneys Valerie & Bill Sherman are ready to help!