What is a Temporary Protective Order?
A temporary protective order (TPO) in Georgia, commonly known as a restraining order, is a civil court order that provides protection if someone is hurting you, threatens to hurt you, or is stalking you. Protective orders are court orders that prevent individuals from contacting you (both directly or indirectly), from harassing you, from threatening you, etc.
Under Georgia law, there are three types of protective orders: family violence protective orders, stalking protective orders and employer protective orders.
Additionally, a ‘weaker’ version of a temporary protective order is a divorce restraining order which is explained below.
Family Violence Protective Orders
Family violence protective orders are issued after a court hearing in which you and the responding party (accused abuser) both have the chance to present your sides of the story and present evidence to the judge.
When granted, family violence protective orders are usually in place for a period of 1 year and can be extended up to 3 years.
To issue a family violence order, the court must find the following:
- The petitioner has or had a particular relationship to the respondent; and
- Past spouses
- Present spouses
- Parents of the same child (unmarried parents)
- Parent and child
- Step-parent and step-child
- Foster parent and foster child
- Persons now living in the same household
- Persons formerly living in the same household
- The respondent has engaged in one or more particular types of violence; and
- Any felony charge
- Simple battery
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- Criminal damage to property
- Unlawful restraint
- Criminal trespass
- Emotional harm
- The petitioner needs protection against future violence by the respondent.
- Likelihood of future violence
- Timing–there is no requirement that past violence must be recent
- Fear is not required
- Evidence of stalking
Stalking Protective Orders
To issue a stalking protective order, the court must find the following:
- The respondent has stalked the petitioner; and
- The petitioner needs protection against future stalking by the respondent.
Stalking, under O.C.G.A 16-5-90 and 16-5-94, occurs when a person follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person; or in violation of a protective order, bond or condition of probation prohibiting the harassment of another person.
Contact is defined as any communication: in person, by phone, by mail or email, computer or computer network, or any other electronic device.
“Harassing and Intimidating” means
- A knowing and willful course of conduct
- Directed at a specific person
- Which causes emotional distress
- By placing such person in reasonable fear for
- Such person’s safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family
- By establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior
- Which serves no legitimate purpose
Employer Protective Orders
Only employers may request an employer protective order, and only to protect an employee. Employers must show the respondent has committed violence or the threat of violence against the employee at the employee’s workplace. Employer protective orders do not require the showing of future threats or violence.
Divorce Restraining Orders in Georgia
Divorce restraining orders are watered down versions of temporary protective orders under the Family Violence Act. While Georgia courts have the authority to issue divorce restraining orders, these restraining orders are not entered into the Family Violence Registry. Because of this, law enforcement may be reluctant to enforce these types of civil orders.
Additionally, divorce restraining orders might not invoke firearms restrictions under federal law, even where the required language is similar and a party has had the opportunity to be heard in court, which are requirements under the federal law firearms restrictions.
TPO Georgia Help – Macon Family Law Attorneys
For help with temporary protective orders (TPOs) or divorce restraining orders contact our family law attorneys at the Brodie Law Group. Our offices are located in three convenient locations in Macon, Gray and Milledgeville. Call us at (478) 239-2780 to get started today.