A restraining order, which is also known as an order of protection, is issued by the courts to an individual. They are meant to instruct a person who has made threats or harmed someone to stay away from them. Most commonly, our domestic violence attorneys hear about restraining orders being issued in a violent divorce or custody issue.

The person named in the restraining order will be ordered to have no contact with the other person or people named. It can be a spouse, your children, a neighbor, or even a co-worker. They are used in various situations to keep people safe.

In the case of a partner or spouse, the restraining order would go through the Family Court system. If a person is afraid because criminal charges are pending and the accused is out of jail on bond, the order would be requested through the Criminal Court System. Finally, the Supreme Court may issue a restraining order during a long, ongoing divorce proceeding.

How Do You Get a Restraining Order?

You petition the court by going to the court office and telling them you want to request a restraining order. They will give you the forms to fill out. The information in those forms is what the judge will use when she or he rules on the request. Any threats, violence, or frightening behavior should be reported. When you are sure nothing has been left off, sign the form and wait. You may be asked a few questions by the judge, and the judge will decide if they will issue a temporary restraining order. They will give you copies of the orders and you will have them served. The papers have to be served in order for the order to become active.

Serving the Papers

You can choose anyone to serve the papers. You can pay a process server to serve them, or ask a friend or family member to serve them. They must be put in his or her hand. They cannot be mailed to them. They cannot be slipped under the door or left in the mailbox. They must go from the server’s hand to the hand of the person who is named in the papers.  The papers you are having served will contain a copy of your complaint, the temporary order of protection, and a summons date. This is the date when they will have to appear before the judge to answer for the accusations. If you are afraid that they will become violent, you can go to your police department and ask that an officer serve as your server. You have to be aware that the accused may avoid being served. Until they have been served, the fewer people who know about the papers the better.

What if They Still Come After Me?

Once a restraining order is in place, violations are serious. The person will be arrested for violating the court order. If you see them violating the order, this could be by walking in front of your house or showing up at your job, or the children’s school, try to get a picture with your phone. Make sure you get any witnesses that can back you up and report this to the police.

How Heavy is a Piece of Paper?

The weight of the orders will be felt if someone breaks the orders. However, do not be foolish. Do not assume they are going to abide by the orders. If you feel threatened or in danger, then dial 911.

If you are in a situation where you need a restraining order against anyone, you should contact an attorney. New York has very strict laws about stalking and harassing someone. You need someone who knows the law to help you stay safe until the courts can act. Contact a domestic violence attorney today.