If your spouse, someone you reside with, or have a child with has physically abused you, threatened  you, or put you in fear for your personal safety, you may want to file for an order of protection.

In addition, you can file for an order of protection against a non-related person for stalking.  "Stalking" is defined as purposely and repeatedly harassing, or following with the intent of harassing another adult.  To be guilty of stalking, there must be a pattern of conduct or series of acts that serve no legitimate purpose other than to harass a particular individual.

To file for an order of protection, you must fill out a petition at the county courthouse.  There is no filing fee.  The judge will review the paperwork while you wait and decide if a temporary (ex parte) order will be granted.  If an ex parte order is granted, you will leave the courthouse with the order that day and a court date will be scheduled for a hearing within about two weeks.  The other side will then need to be served with the ex parte order.

At the hearing, if the judge finds that the allegations have been proven, the judge can enter a full order of protection, which can be in effect for six months or one year.

The following are types of relief that can be granted in an order of protection proceeding:

    1.    Restraining the person from abusing, threatening to abuse, molesting, or disturbing the peace of the person filing the case.

    2.    Restraining the person from entering the premises of the person filing the case.

    3.    Issuing a temporary order for custody of children.

    4.    Child support and spousal maintenance.

    5.    Orders to pay for certain financial obligations.

    6.    Orders to attend counseling or batterer's intervention.

    7.    Attorneys fees.