In Georgia, a temporary protective order (“TPO”) – sometimes referred to as a restraining order – is a civil court order that affords you protection is someone is harming you, threatening you, or stalking you. A TPO will prohibit the individual who is harming, threatening, or stalking you from contacting you at all, either directly or through a third person, so that the harm giving rise to the TPO will stop.
Georgia law provides for three (3) types of TPO’s: family violence protective orders, stalking protective orders, and employer protective orders. (General restraining orders are also available in the context of divorce, and while these may do the trick, they are essentially weaker versions of TPO’s which impose less punishment on the offending party and often afford the recipient less protection than a TPO would.)
A family violence protective order may be issued by a court if the petitioner has or had a specific type of relationship with the respondent (e.g., past or present spouses, unmarried parents, persons living in the same household), the respondent has engaged in one or more acts of violence, and the petitioner needs protection against future violence by the respondent. Family violence protective orders may be obtained on an ex parte basis for a period of up to 30 days. Then, after a hearing at which both parties are present, a court may issue a family violence protective order, which usually lasts for a period of 1 – 3 years. Family violence protective orders are entered into Georgia’s Family Violence Registry, depriving the respondent of certain rights including the ability to own firearms pursuant to federal law.
Stalking protective orders are available where the respondent has stalked the petitioner and the petitioner needs protection against future stalking by respondent, with the term “stalking” being defined in O.C.G.A. §§ 16-5-90 and 16-5-94. As with family violence protective orders, stalking protective orders may initially be obtained on an ex parte basis, and subsequently entered for a period of up to 12 months and/or be made permanent.
Employer protective orders may be requested only by employers for purposes of protecting an employee upon a showing that the respondent has committed violence or a threat of violence against the employee at the employee’s workplace. In cases of employer protective orders, there is no requirement of a showing of likely future violence.
Ultimately, Georgia provides multiple avenues for protection from harm, threats, and stalking in the form of TPO’s. While you can obtain a TPO without the assistance of counsel, it is advisable that you consult with an attorney to ensure that you address all of the necessary criteria to avoid having your TPO request being denied on a technicality. Additionally, because the respondent is entitled to question you and present evidence at the TPO hearing (and to be represented by counsel), having representation from an experienced attorney will be extremely beneficial for several reasons.
If you would like to obtain a TPO, or if you have been served with notice that someone is seeking to obtain a TPO against you, contact Kimberly Coleman Law today for a confidential consultation – we will listen to your story, provide you the support you need, and advise you as to how to achieve the result you need to keep yourself and your family safe!