October 30, 2013

Legal Assistance


Whether you are male or female, married or not, gay or straight, and are in a violent relationship, DOVES can provide you with direct legal assistance or refer you to someone who can help.

What is a Temporary Restraining Order? 

A Temporary Restraining Order is a court order that is meant to “keep the peace” for a temporary time until the facts can be heard in court, before a judge, and some of the legal issues sorted out. It is good for only three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, both parties will go before the judge to present their sides of the situation. The judge will then make a “permanent” ruling based on the facts of the case.

A TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) can do some or all of the following things for you depending on your case:

  • Order the violent person to cease beating, threatening, harassing you and others living with you.
  • Order the violent person to stay at least 100 yards (or 500 yards) away from you at all times, including your home, place of work, your children’s school and child care facility.
  • Establish temporary child custody and visitation orders.
  • Establish temporary orders for who pays what bills.
  • Establish temporary orders as to which party stays in the home and which party leaves.
  • Establish which party gets to temporarily keep or use certain items of personal property such as cars and furniture.

Remember, you will need to go back to court to present further facts of the case. At that time, some of the temporary orders may change, based upon the judge’s perception of the facts of the case. After the defendant has been served with your Permanent Restraining Order, it will usually be in effect for several years.

What qualifies me for a TRO? 

The social definition of domestic violence includes all sorts of malicious behaviors that couples can do to each other But, in order to qualify to have a TRO issued, there has to be criminal behavior. Criminal behavior includes: hitting, choking, kicking, assault with a weapon, shoving, scratching, biting, rape, unwanted sexual touching, kidnapping, threats of violence, stalking, and destruction of property.

In order for the court to grant a Temporary Restraining Order there must be:

  •  Violence: actual physical violence or threatened violence
  • Immediate and present danger: The danger to the victim must be reasonably determined. (Is the victim safe from physical violence?)
  • Recent Activity: A violent incident must have occurred within the last 30 days and the violence is what has caused the victim to seek the TRO.