Orders of Protection

Orders of Protection

If you would like help with the Order of Protection process, an advocate at the Family Safety Center can help you. 

 

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a legal document signed by a judge that prevents an abuser from contacting you or coming around you for any reason. It is a civil procedure which means that you don’t have to involve law enforcement if you do not want to. This also means that it will not go on an abuser’s record as long as they abide by the Order. Violating the Order can result in criminal charges against the abuser for behavior that wouldn’t normally be considered criminal, like calling you. If the judge grants your request for an Order of Protection, the Order can be in place for up to 1 year. You can request an extension of your Order at the end of that year if you still feel unsafe.

In an Order of Protection, the “Petitioner” is the person asking for the Order of Protection and the “Respondent” is the person the Order is against.

Under an Order of Protection, an abuser can be ordered NOT TO:

  • threaten, frighten, or abuse you, your children, or your pets
  • contact you or your children through any means including phone calls, texts, social media, letters, emails, or through other people
  • come around you or your children whether you are at home, at work, at school, at the grocery store, or anywhere else
  • interfere with your utilities
  • own or possess firearms

You can also request that the court:

  • order the Respondent to move out of the home you share immediately.
  • order the Respondent to pay child support, alimony, and/or part or all of the household bills.
  • separate your phone lines (if you share the same cell phone account).

Who can get an Order of Protection?

  • Parties who are dating, have dated, or have had sex
  • Parties who are married, have been married, or share children together
  • Parties who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Parties who have lived together
  • A person who has been sexually assaulted by the Respondent
  • A person who has been stalked by the Respondent

How to get an Order of Protection

You can come to the Family Safety Center for help filing your Order of Protection. If you are in Nashville and would like to file the Order on your own, you can access the paperwork here.

When you come to the Family Safety Center, this is what you can expect:

  1. Your advocate will ask you for demographic and contact information for yourself and the person you want the Order against (the Respondent).
  2. The advocate will ask you some questions about the abuse you’ve experienced and why you are afraid of the Respondent. They will then write up a narrative of the abuse for the court. The advocate will read everything back to you when they are done to make sure you agree with what they wrote and that everything is correct.
  3. The advocate will submit the finished paperwork to the commissioner. They will then go with you to speak to the commissioner about your Order.
  4. The commissioner will swear you in and may ask you a few questions about your Order. The commissioner will then decide whether or not to grant you the temporary Order of Protection (this is called an ex parte).
  5. If the commissioner decides to grant your temporary Order of Protection, the commissioner will sign it, give you a copy, and send a copy to the Sheriff’s Office.
  6. Once the Sheriff’s Office serves the Order of Protection on the Respondent, they will call you to let you know that the Order is officially in effect. They will also give you a court date to go in front of a judge in order to request a permanent (1 year) Order of Protection.
  7. The Sheriff’s Office will then begin attempting to serve the Order of Protection on the Respondent and put them on notice of what they can and cannot do under the Order. The Order will not be in effect until the Sheriff’s Office serves it on the Respondent because they cannot hold the Respondent responsible for violating the Order if the Respondent doesn’t know the Order exists.
  8. On the day of your court date, you will go the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center inside the courthouse before your hearing. The advocates will speak to you and answer any questions you might have before court. They will then escort you to the courtroom when it’s time for your hearing, stay with you during the hearing, and make sure you get out of the courthouse safely.

The Sheriff’s Office will then begin attempting to serve the Order of Protection on the Respondent and put them on notice of what they can and cannot do under the Order.

The Order will not be in effect until the Sheriff’s Office serves it on the Respondent because they cannot hold the Respondent responsible for violating the Order if the Respondent doesn’t know the Order exists.

What to do if you Order is violated

If you are in immediate danger when your Order is violated or you are afraid for your life, call 911.

If you are not in immediate danger and want to file charges or make a report, you can call the non-emergency number. If you are in Nashville, that number is (615) 862-8600.

If you are unsure about what to do or have any questions, you can call an advocate at the Family Safety Center to discuss your options.

 

If you would like help with the Order of Protection process, an advocate at the Family Safety Center can help you.

 

If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, look at our safety planning page for ways to increase your safety and our resources page for community support.