TRO’s / Domestic Violence
If you believe that you or a family member are exposed to threats of physical or emotional harm or harassment by another person, you may seek an order from the court enjoining such conduct by filing a Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”). When the threat of harm is by a family member, spouse or ex-spouse, or boyfriend or girlfriend, the Petition for a TRO is filed at the Family Court. When the threat of harm is by anyone else, the Petition for a TRO is filed at the District Court. The party against whom the restraining order is sought is typically referred to as the respondent.
If the Judge who reviews the Petition for a TRO approves the request, the court will then issue a temporary order restraining stopping all contact between the petitioner and the respondent. This initial order is only temporary, however, and both parties must appear at court for a hearing on the merits of the petition. At the hearing, both sides will be allowed to present evidence in the form of testimony and exhibits. If the court determines that the petitioner has met the burden of proof, then the court will issue an order enjoining any contact or harassment for a period ranging from one to three years or, in some instances, permanently.
A Petition for a TRO is a significant proceeding. If the court does issue an order, the parties are subject to criminal prosecution if either side violates the court’s order. Additionally, if the Petition for a TRO involves parties who are in a Family Court divorce or custody proceeding, any court order granting a Petition for a TRO will have a great influence on the Family Court proceeding.
If you are considering filing a Petition for a TRO, or you are responding to one, and you would like to discuss your rights and options, please contact us for a free consultation so that we can determine the best way to protect your interests.