Obtaining a Protective Order in Georgia

Domestic violence is a terrifying and traumatic form of abuse for anyone to experience. It can happen for many different reasons, and anyone being abused in this way needs to be protected. Seeking help when you’re being physically abused can be scary. You may worry that your abuser will become more violent if they find out. However, protective orders can legally require them to refrain from contacting you or coming within a certain distance of you. There is a process involved in obtaining one, but it can be done quickly when all aspects are handled correctly.

How Is Domestic Violence Defined in Georgia?

The state of Georgia considers any of the following acts to be domestic violence when committed by someone against a person in their family or person they live with:

  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Stalking
  • Damaging their property
  • Restraining them physically
  • Trespassing on their property

The state of Georgia does not include corporal punishment in their definition of domestic violence if it is considered “reasonable.”

What Types of Protective Orders Are There?

The state of Georgia offers 2 different protective orders for domestic violence or family violence cases. The first is a temporary ex parte order. These are used to protect victims from the person abusing them until the court can hold a full hearing to address the situation. They can be granted without the abuser being informed and without a hearing taking place.

Obtaining a Temporary Ex Parte Order of Protection

For someone to obtain a temporary ex parte order of protection, they have to file a petition with their local court. A judge will review it, and they will grant the order if they believe the person who filed for it is in grave danger. It is very important for anyone filing for such an order to provide the judge with as much detail as possible. For example, detailed accounts of the abuser’s action, why it could potentially happen again, and more.

These orders a granted for a maximum of 30 days. The courts will schedule a hearing regarding a family violence protective order, which is a more permanent form of protection, during those 30 days. A temporary order of protection can be extended if the court is unable to hold a hearing within 30 days of first granting it.

Family Violence Protective Order

A family violence protective order provides a more permanent form of protection for people who have been abused. They are granted after a court hearing held to give both sides (the abuser and the victim) the opportunity to explain what happened and provide evidence. The orders can be granted for up to a year, but they can be extended up to 3 years.

What Do Protective Orders Cover?

Protective orders are designed to protect victims of abuse from their abuser and allow them to carry out their lives with less worry. Therefore, protective orders can include intensive requirements imposed on the abuser. Specifically, a temporary domestic violence protective order can:

  • Require an abuser to stop injuring, mistreating, bothering, harassing, following, harming, or abusing the victim and anyone in their family or household
  • Require an abuser to stop following, contacting, or surveilling a victim to intimidate them
  • Require an abuser to move out of a living space they share with the victim
  • Require an abuser to provide an alternative living arrangement for the victim and their family
  • Set a specific distance the abuser must stay from the victim’s home, place of work, school, etc.
  • Award temporary child support or spousal support to the victim
  • Create a visitation schedule for children shared by the abuser and the victim
  • Order the abuser to keep property and pets the victim owns until they are able to retrieve them safely and comfortably
  • Require the abuser to keep home utilities active and running, keep the victim on their insurance policies until they are able to find their own, etc.

Final domestic protective orders can do everything listed above as well as:

  • Require the abuser to enter mental health treatment or recovery in an attempt to prevent abuse in the future
  • Require either party to pay the other person’s attorney’s fees

Who Should Consider a Protective Order?

There are many behaviors an abuser can engage in that would warrant seeking a protective order. Anyone who feels their health or wellbeing is at risk due to the actions of a loved one or someone they live with may want to consider filing for a protective order.

The state of Georgia takes these issues seriously, but anyone filing for an order of protection will have to prove that they have endured at least one of the following:

  • Physical abuse or threats of it: Anyone who can prove to a judge that the person they’re filing for a protective order against committed an act of violence against them is likely to have their petition granted. Including evidence such as pictures and videos can be helpful in proving that physical abuse has taken place. Evidence of threats, such as text messages, can also be used as evidence.
  • Sexual abuse: Anyone who has been forced to engage in sexual acts against their will can and should apply for a protective order. Photos and text messages will act as good evidence, as will any witness accounts.
  • Stalking: A person only has to prove that someone is following them or consistently invading their privacy to receive a protective order for stalking. Anyone who can provide examples of threatening behavior to the judge has a good chance of being granted a protective order.
  • Psychological abuse: Anyone who has been emotionally or psychologically abused may be able to receive a protective order. This includes any behavior an abuser has used to harm the person’s emotional wellbeing or mental state.
  • Financial abuse: A protective order may be attainable for someone who has been financially abused by a partner. Financial abuse includes the abuser withholding funds, depleting assets against their will, or threatening violence if the victim doesn’t provide money to them.

What if My Abuser Has Left the State?

Someone living in Georgia can still file for a protective order against their abuser if their abuser has left the state or does not live there. If their abuser lives in a different state, the judge presiding over the case may have personal jurisdiction over them, but only if they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • The abuser has a connection to the state that requires them to visit, such as work or family, or they recently fled the state.
  • The abuser committed an act of violence against the victim in the state. For example, threatening text messages received and read by the victim in Georgia would count, even if they were sent from a different state.
  • The abuser is served the petition by the court while in the state, even if they do not live there.

Other Resources for Victims of Abuse

Anyone experiencing a domestic abuse emergency can call the Georgia domestic violence hotline at 1-800-334-2836. They accept calls 24 hours a day and can connect victims with a certified shelter near them. The services they provide are confidential and they provide assistance in multiple languages.

Ahimsa House has a 24-hour crisis hotline for people experiencing domestic abuse in Georgia. They specialize in help human and animal victims of domestic violence seek safety together. They can provide emergency living arrangements and veterinary care for pets and help their owners get into a shelter. They provide services throughout the state of Georgia.

We Can Help You

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need an order of protection against your abuser, contact Daniels & Taylor, P.C. today. We can help you get immediate assistance and prevent further abuse against you and your loved ones. We represent our clients aggressively and with empathy for their situation. Contact us at (770) 285-1673 or online to schedule a confidential consultation today.