If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. Never wait. However, if you are in a situation that allows you to contemplate your condition take a few moments and read the following.
The police often do not want to get involved in domestic issues because it is hard for them to tell who is in the wrong. They only get involved if there is a clear threat someone will get hurt. When you take the first step in going to the county clerk of the family court, be equipped with the basic knowledge of the types of orders available to you.
1. Domestic Violence Order for Protection – If you have been threatened or assaulted by a family member, this civil order directs the respondent not to engage in any further harm. It also orders the person to stay away from your home, and leave a shared residence. It can order a person to attend counseling sessions, and abide by scheduled visitation of children. However, this type of order cannot mandate child support, maintenance, or permanent child custody. To obtain this type of order, you will need to ask the court clerk for forms to formally request it. If this is an emergency (again, if you are in immediate harm call 911), a temporary order, valid for 14 days, will be issued. And it must be served on the offending person in order to be valid. Within 14 days, a hearing date will be scheduled and the respondent will receive notice of that date. At the hearing the court will decide whether to issue this domestic violence protection order for one year or longer.
2. Restraining Order – A restraining order is a broader type of court order which can encompass several issues such as property, custody, domestic violence, child support and alimony. This is often filed as part of a family law case such as custody, paternity, or divorce.
3. No Contact Order – This form of protective order is part of a criminal case; therefore, you do not have to file a petition. This order is the procedural consequence of the respondent being arrested, and thus becoming a defendant. The court decides whether to issue this order during a bail hearing, an arraignment (a criminal hearing when formal charges are announced) or at sentencing. This type of order generally does not last as long as a civil order. Also, it does not order such things as a domestic violence order for protection, as described above. To clarify, it is not a family court order; it is merely meant to protect you while the respondent’s criminal case is pending.
4. Civil Anti-harassment Order – This order is not for disputes with family members; rather, it is designed for issues between neighbors and stalking situations (with a stranger involved). If you have been harassed, minus an assault or threats of physical harm, this order is the appropriate option for you.
With all available court protection, it is a good idea to work with an attorney. For the court to make an order protecting you longer than 14 days, a judge will look for certain elements in your complaint that are required to be proven at a court hearing.
If you have experienced abuse, harassment or simply need more information on the court orders listed above, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law. Our firm employs family law attorneys who can assist you on a variety of issues surrounding marriage, divorce and children. Call Pacific Northwest Family Law today at 509-572-3700.