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Domestic violence cases can escalate quickly. Georgia saw more than 171,000 cases of family violence between 2018 and 2021. If you’re facing a violent threat from someone in your household, you might feel like you have limited options. Georgia law can offer a solution through a protective order.

Our protective order lawyers can help you learn more about available orders, how they might apply to your situation, and what you need to do to file for one successfully. Schedule a free initial consultation. Let us help you take back control.

Georgia Protective Orders

Commonly known as restraining orders, protective orders are designed to protect victims of family violence. In Georgia, the term “family violence” refers to the actions between spouses, exes, children, stepparents or stepchildren, foster parents, grandparents, or any person living in the same household.

Someone commits family violence if they commit a felony against one of these people or if they commit any act of battery, simple battery, simple assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

Basically, if you or a loved one is being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused by someone in your household, you can pursue a protection order. This order should restrict the access your abuser has to you and enables punishment if they violate the protection order.

Available Protective Orders in Georgia

There are two common protective orders that can help you when someone in your family or household is threatening your safety.

  • Temporary Ex Parte: Ex parte orders are temporary protective orders meant to prevent a domestic violence incident from taking place in the immediate future. Judges can issue temporary protective orders without alerting the alleged abuser present. There will need to be a full hearing to determine if a family protective order is necessary. Ex parte orders last 30 days or less.
  • Family Protective Order: These orders can last up to a year, three years, or indefinitely, depending on your circumstances. This order does require a hearing with the alleged abuser present but provides opportunities for extended relief.

What Do Protective Orders Do in Georgia?

Protective orders limit the interactions between the applicant and the defendant either temporarily or permanently. Your protective order can:

  • Prevent the alleged abuser from seeing the potential victim
  • Force the defendant to move away from the residence
  • Grant temporary physical custodyand/or child support
  • Order the defendant to maintain shared property or pets
  • Order the defendant to allow you to collect your property if necessary

A family violence protective order provides these same protections, and it can also force the defendant to pay the attorneys’ fees and attend counseling.

It should be noted that a protective order does not automatically indicate if the defendant is guilty of abuse, start criminal prosecution, or decide final custody of any shared children. Getting a protective order is a good start to finding peace, and calling a qualified family law attorney can help you get started.

How to Get a Protective Order in Georgia

You’ll be filing a petition for a protective order in the superior court of the county where your alleged abuser lives. Your attorney can  find the appropriate forms: your circumstances will determine which form you’ll need, like if children are involved.

You’ll need your information, the alleged abuser’s information, and anything else relevant to your situation. You might be asked to detail the latest violent incident. The judge will be using this description to determine if they should approve or deny your protective order. If you need immediate protection, you need to convey the danger your abuser presents.

Once the judge signs your ex parte order, you may be asked to take it to the clerk’s office or to the local sheriff. Your attorney can ensure the order provides adequate safety and you deliver it to the correct offices. A sheriff’s deputy will serve your alleged abuser with the terms of your order. They’ll also be notified of the next hearing for a family protective order.

Why Does The Second Hearing Matter?

The second hearing  is the hearing that will determine if you’re granted a final family violence protective order. If you don’t attend, your ex parte order will expire, and you’ll need to restart the process. Your attorney will present your arguments for the need for an order. Your abuser will also have a chance to tell their side of the story.

If your abuser doesn’t attend, the judge might approve your final protective order, or they might reschedule your hearing.

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Protective Order FAQs

What if My Abuser Lives Outside of Georgia?

If you experienced abuse while living in Georgia, you can still apply for a protective order in the state. You can file one in your home county, or in the county where the abuse occurred.

Who Should I Notify About a Protective Order?

You should carry a copy of your protective order with you at all times. You should also provide a copy to your workplace, have a copy at home, leave one at your children’s school or daycare, and leave a copy with a neighbor.

What Happens if the Defendant Violates the Order?

If your abuser violates the protective order, they face fines, arrest, and incarceration. The punishment will depend on how your abuser violates the order. Non-violent offenses could be considered misdemeanors. Other offenses could be considered felonies. Your attorney can detail expected  punishments for your circumstances.

Will Law Enforcement Help Me?

If your protective order is approved, you can ask your local law enforcement agents for periodic security checks for your safety. After your court appearance, law enforcement may escort you to your vehicle.

Is My Abuser Allowed to Have a Gun?

Georgia law does not automatically prohibit abusers from possessing firearms after a protective order is granted. However, you can request that their access be restricted in your petition. Talk to your family law attorney for a better understanding.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Protective Order?

It’s possible to file your petition for a protective order on your own. But you stand the best chance of getting a favorable outcome and protecting yourself and your family if you work with a knowledgeable attorney. You should consider hiring an experienced Georgia family law attorney, especially if you’re seeking a final protective order.

Let The Gentry Law Firm Help Today

The emotions involved in temporary orders of protection are significant. Our family law attorneys in Marietta, GA can clearly and objectively explain your rights. Our founding attorney, Mr. William C. Gentry, has built a reputation as an ethical lawyer who upholds the best interests of his clients diligently. We know you’re in a troubling situation. Let us help you regain safety and peace of mind.

To schedule your free consultation and to get a thorough analysis of your legal options, call (770) 425-5573 or reach us confidentially online. Conveniently located in Marietta, Georgia, we answer the phone during business hours and respond promptly to all inquiries.