TPO in Georgia or “Restraining Order” 2022

A 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 in Georgia. You would start the process by filing a petition for temporary protective order with the court and then go through the required steps. If you need help with this process, contact Atlanta Divorce Lawyer for a free consultation.

What is a TPO or “restraining order” in Georgia?

A TPO in Georgia 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 in Georgia 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 to get 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. If you have never presented a case in court, you may want to talk with Atlanta Divorce Attorney.

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 violation of TPO in Ga may be a crime.

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.

What is considered violating TPO in Georgia?

Violating TPO in Georgia means that a party did not abide by the terms of the TPO. The terms of the TPO are spelled out within the TPO itself. So, the first step in determining whether a TPO violation in Georgia has occurred is to carefully read the TPO itself.

For example, it may be a violation of the no-contact language of a TPO when the respondent sends a text message to a mutual friend of the parties asking that the mutual friend to relay a message to the petitioner. This could be considered indirect contact, which may be a violation of the no-contact provision in the TPO.

Consequences of TPO Violation in Georgia

A typical TPO in Georgia will generally have a no-contact or stay away order in the TPO.

For example, a TPO might contain the following language: “Respondent is ordered not to have any contact, direct, indirect or through another person with Petitioner, by telephone, fax, e-mail or any other means of communication except as specified in this Order.” If the respondent sends a text message to the petitioner asking how the petitioner is doing, this may be a violation of the no-contact language.

Violating a TPO in Georgia could result in both civil and criminal issues, such as contempt and criminal prosecution.

Contempt

A TPO in Georgia is a civil court order. So, if a party willfully or intentionally violates any terms of the TPO, that party could be found in contempt. If that party is found in contempt after a hearing, that party could be subject to jail time and/or fine.

Criminal prosecution

Depending on the circumstances, a person who violates a TPO in Georgia may be charged with misdemeanor violation of a TPO or felony aggravated stalking. Criminal prosecution may occur in addition to civil remedies.

Extension of TPO

Violation of a TPO in Georgia may result in the TPO being extended.

Generally, if a TPO is granted, the TPO will be in effect for 12 months. The petitioner may file a motion with the court to request that the 12-month TPO be changed to a three-year TPO or a permanent one. For example, multiple violations of a TPO may be grounds for requesting extension of the TPO.

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