In most cases, people live together peaceably, without threats of personal violence. But in those instances where you believe your well-being is at risk, you may want to obtain a protective order.

A judge may grant an order of protection, or restraining order. However, if this is the first time court-ordered protection has been necessary for you, you might not understand the process.

What might you need to know about an order of protection?

In some cases, you might need protection from an abusive person, a stalker or someone who has sexually assaulted you. The court will serve the person named in your allegations after you file an order of protection.

Through a hearing, a judge will decide whether they will grant the order. But even if they do, many questions may remain, such as:

  • How long will an order of protection last? Although, depending on your circumstances, you may ask the court to extend the order, they typically last for up to one year.
  • How is an order of protection enforced if you live together? The court will decide which of you can stay at your place of residence while the order is in effect.
  • How would an order of protection help you? Through a judge’s decision, the person who is threatening or abusing you would be ordered not only to stop their abusive activity, but also to cease all communication with you. This includes communication in person, by telephone and through another individual.

If your abuser violates the court order, you should contact the police immediately and document all violations. If your abuser visits, calls, emails or stalks you against the judge’s orders, they could face arrest and possible time in jail.