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What to do if you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order?

 

It can feel confusing, frustrating and sometimes even insulting to be served a temporary restraining order. It can keep you from your wife, kids or other family members. It can even prohibit you from going home. While it can be difficult to know what to do after finding out there is a restraining order against you, it is important to remain calm and take appropriate actions before your court hearing because that is where a judge will decide if the restraining order should be canceled or if it should be made more permanent.

Read and obey the order

If you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order, read the order over carefully. The order most likely requires you to not contact or harm a specific person or specific people. You may also be required to move out of a shared home, pay child support, pay spousal support or follow custody or visitation orders. Keep in mind, you cannot own or possess a firearm when the order is in effect and will have to sell or turn in any guns you have.

Even if you do not agree, you must obey the requirements in the restraining order or you could be arrested or fined. A Temporary Restraining order lasts until the hearing date, at which point a judge could cancel or extend the order.

File a response

If you want to tell your side of the story, you must file and serve a response before your court date. When you file a response, you must use a specific response form (Form DV-120). In this form you can explain your side of the story and what orders you want for child custody and visitation.

Depending on your situation, you may also want to file a restraining order against the person who filed the restraining order against you. However, if you choose to do this, it must be filed as its own request and cannot be part of your response.

Prepare for court

You should plan to attend your hearing, even if you do not file a response. If you do not attend, the judge can still make orders against you.

To prepare for the hearing, you should gather evidence that will help you dispute the restraining order. Some of that evidence may be witnesses who are willing to provide a signed witness statement or testify in court.

Make sure you have multiple copies of all of the documents you plan to use. You should also make sure you are at the courthouse at least 30 minutes before your hearing, so you have time to find the courtroom.

It can be difficult to know what to do immediately after being served a Temporary Restraining Order. If you follow the order and use the right channels to share your side of the story, you stand your best chance at keeping the order from becoming more permanent.

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