A temporary protective order (TPO) in Georgia is a court order. Some people refer to a TPO as a “retraining order” or “no-contact order.” A TPO (or “restraining order”) may provide legal protection to a victim of domestic abuse or stalking.
Just like other court orders, you need to go through the court system to obtain a TPO. You would start the process by filing a petition for temporary protective order with the court and then go through the required steps.
What is a TPO or “restraining order” in Ga?
A TPO is an order issued by the superior court to provide protection to a victim of family violence or stalking. Some call it a “restraining order”.
A TPO generally orders the abuser to stop committing family violence or stalking against the victim. Simply put, the victim asks the court to order the abuser to stop abusing the victim. If the victim can satisfactorily prove the victim’s allegations in court, the court may issue an order with appropriate relief.
What is Family Violence?
Family violence is a legal term defined by Georgia law. Family violence is defined as any felony (either violent or non-violent) and certain criminal offenses (battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, and criminal trespass) that are committed between the following people:
- Past or present spouses;
- Persons who are parents of the same child (e.g., unmarried couple);
- Parents and children;
- Stepparents and stepchildren;
- Foster parents and foster children; or
- Other persons living or formerly living in the same household (e.g., roommates).
Thus, a family violence TPO is applicable to only certain relationships.
What is Stalking?
Stalking is when the abuser follows, places under surveillance, or contacts the victim at or about a place or places without the consent of the victim for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the victim or in violation of a protective order, bond, or condition of probation prohibiting harassment of the victim, broadcasts or publishes the name, address, or phone number of the victim for whose benefit, the bond, order, or condition was made and the person making the broadcast or publication had reason to believe it would cause such victim to be harassed or intimated by others. Here, the term contact includes any communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer, by computer network, or any other electronic device.
Unlike a family violence TPO, a stalking TPO does not require the stalking to occur between specific relationships.
Can a minor child obtain a temporary protective order? What are the steps in getting a TPO on behalf of a minor child?
A minor child could obtain a TPO by having an adult file a petition for TPO on behalf of the minor child. Thus, if the requirements are met, a child could obtain a TPO against the child’s parent. However, reasonable discipline by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention is not considered family violence under Georgia law.
A TPO filed on behalf of a minor child would require the same steps as in a TPO filed by an adult.
How do I file a TPO in Georgia? What do you need to file a TPO in Georgia?
You would get a TPO in Georgia through the following procedure:
The victim would initiate the TPO process by filing a petition for TPO with the superior court. The proper county for filing the TPO petition is generally the county where the abuser resides. The victim would be the petitioner, and the abuser would be the respondent.
How long does it take to get a TPO in Georgia?
Once the petition for TPO is filed, the victim would have a hearing before the judge in an ex parte hearing. In an ex parte hearing, the abuser is not present to defend himself or herself. If the victim satisfactorily shows the judge in the ex parte hearing that the family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the judge may order temporary relief ex parte to protect the victim. Then, within 30 days, a hearing will be had where both the victim/petitioner and abuser/respondent will appear to present their case.
What happens at a TPO hearing in Georgia?
What happens at a TPO hearing is similar to other civil cases. At the TPO hearing, the petitioner will present his or her evidence first. Then, the respondent will present his or her defense (or his or her counterclaim for a TPO against the petitioner). The applicable rules of evidence will apply. The petitioner (or the respondent, if a counterclaim for TPO is brought) must satisfactorily prove the allegations in his or her petition for a TPO in order for the TPO to be granted by the court.
Can you drop a temporary protective order in Georgia?
Yes, the petitioner could voluntarily dismiss or drop his or her petition for TPO.
How long does a TPO last? Are there more steps to take after a TPO is issued?
After you go through all of the required steps, the court may dismiss the TPO, issue a TPO for up to twelve months, or approve any consent agreements between the petitioner and respondent.
If certain conditions are met after the issuance of a twelve-month TPO, the court may extend the duration of the TPO or make the TPO permanent.
How does a TPO in Georgia work?
A TPO in Georgia, just like other court orders, works by ordering certain things. Thus, a TPO may order a party to stop engaging in certain actions. If a party violates the TPO, there are additional steps in enforcing the TPO.
A family violence TPO may order the following:
(1) Direct the defendant to stop acts of family violence;
(2) Grant to a party sole, exclusive possession of the residence or household of the parties;
(3) Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and the parties’ child or children;
(4) Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
(5) Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the defendant’s eviction has not been ordered;
(6) Order either party to make child support payments;
(7) Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
(8) Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
(9) Order the defendant to stop harassing or interfering with the victim;
(10) Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party; and
(11) Order the defendant to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
A stalking TPO may order the following:
(1) Direct a party to refrain from stalking;
(2) Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;
(3) Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party; and
(4) Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of stalking.