What are grounds for a restraining order?

Restraining orders are awarded with the intent of protecting victims from an abuser, attacker or stalker who has hurt them in the past.

The process of obtaining a restraining order varies from state to state, but restraining orders generally prohibit the defendant--the person who has been served with the order--from going to a victim's home or place of work, having written or oral communication with the victim, or from abusing or stalking the victim. A judge or magistrate decides whether the order will be permanently granted and how long the order will stay in effect. Those who violate terms of a restraining order, without specification from the courts, including the victim, may be fined or sentenced to time in jail or prison.

Seeking a Restraining Order

A person filing for a restraining order must list the abuse she has suffered. The victim--the person seeking the order--is not allowed to state anything outside of the facts to make her case. A hearing is held to give the accused a chance to give his side of the story. If the court finds that the victim has exaggerated the truth, the court can throw out the case, fine the victim and find her in contempt of court.

Temporary Restraining Order

A temporary restraining order is generally awarded without the presence of the individual who is being restrained by a magistrate or judge of the court. The temporary restraining order will detail what acts the restrained individual may or may not have committed to the victim. A temporary restraining order does not take effect until the restrained individual is served with the order. There has to be a hearing before the order is permanently put in place.

Permanent Restraining Order

A permanent restraining order comes into existence after a judge or magistrate has ruled that it is necessary on the grounds that the incidents listed on the petition by the victim--typically verbal, emotionally and physical abuse--have been proven to be true and that the safety of the victim is at risk. This order will specify that the restrained individual may not show up to the places where the victim will be, such as home, school, place of employment or any residences listed on the restraining order.

Stalking Restraining Order

A stalking restraining order may be awarded on the grounds that the stalker followed a victim by foot or car, watched the victim outside of his workplace or home, sent the victim unwanted correspondences such as letters and e-mails or made harassing phone calls. The accused stalker must have knowingly and repeatedly committed the acts mentioned above without the consent of the victim for the order to be issued. Once the stalking order is granted, the stalker must cease all communication, both written and physical, with the victim.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Unlike other protective orders or restraining orders, there are specifics that must be met to file for a domestic violence restraining order. The victim and defendant must be related in one of the following ways; husband, wife; partners; both being the father or mother of a child; related by blood; currently living together or have lived together in the past; or parents and adult children; in-laws and stepchildren are included. An order will grant the victim temporary guardianship of any children from the couple, as well as mandate that the defendant move out of the home immediately but continue paying any financial obligations. A hearing is set for the magistrate or judge to decide whether the order shall remain in effect and for how long.