What do I bring to court when I’m trying to get a restraining order?

Stephanie Cortes
A restraining order is intended to protect an individual from further being harmed by an abuser. The court recognizes the person seeking a restraining order as the “protected person” and the other party whom the restraining order is against as the “restrained person."

To initiate the restraining order process, an individual must file a petition to the court. The judge will then look at the information of the petition and read the declaration to determine if a temporary restraining order should be granted. According to Save Services, “There are between 2 to 3 million temporary restraining orders issued annually in the United States.”

In most states, once a TRO is granted, the court will set a hearing in about 10 days providing the protected party time to have the Sheriff’s office to serve the abuser with a copy of the order that will include the hearing date to attend.

If you are seeking a restraining order, here is what you should bring to the hearing:

  • A copy of the petition and declaration filed
  • A copy of the Temprorary Restraining Order issued by the judge
  • A copy of an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) issued by law enforcement, if issued
  • A copy of any police report
  • A copy of the Proof of Service document
  • Photos or videos of evidence such as injuries, harassing messages, damaged property, etc
  • Witness ready to testify
  • Criminal records for the restrained party
  • Hospital records of abuse
  • Copies of child custody orders
  • Notes to yourself that may help you explain your claims to the judge
  • Anything else that supports your claims

An attorney can help you prepare for your hearing to best represent your interest in court.
What if I cannot attend an upcoming restraining order hearing? 
Both parties are required to attend the hearing to represent themselves. If the party seeking the restraining order fails to show, the judge may deny the request and cancel the TRO. When the restrained party fails to be present, the court may still grant orders without them.

If you are unable to attend the hearing, you may ask the court if you can attend via phone or request a continuance for a future date.

You may call the police if the restrained party is not following the TRO issued by the judge. Law enforcement will ask the restrained party to leave the home or arrest them.

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

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