Domestic violence, known in the Georgia courts as family violence, creates terrible circumstances for families. In 2019, there were 46,618 reported incidents of family violence in Georgia, and almost 22% of those incidents involved children. Domestic violence impacts too many families, but help can be found in restraining orders, also known as protection orders.
If you are considering filing for a protection order, contact Attorney Noreen Banks-Ware. With 30 years of experience as a family law attorney, she can provide the experienced legal counsel you need throughout this challenging time. Located in Lithonia, Georgia, E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC also serves clients in Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, and Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Domestic Violence in Georgia
If you or someone you know experiences domestic violence in Georgia, it’s important to understand how the courts define these acts. When a family or household member commits one or more of the following acts, then family violence has occurred:
Above all, do what you can to protect yourself and any children at risk of harm. Take action as soon as you can after the abuse.
Call the Police
First, you should call the police. If you are in immediate danger, or you were the victim of one of the acts listed above, notify the police as soon as possible.
Get to Safety
Then, you need to get yourself and your children to a place of safety. If you feel unsafe going to a family member or friend’s home because you fear that you may be followed, look for shelters near you.
Obtain a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)
Once you are physically safe, you should file a temporary protective order (TPO) in the county where the person who committed the violence lives. A TPO directs the accused person to stay away from you and provides other protections. The order will last for 30 days or until there is a hearing about the domestic violence.
It is free to file a TPO, but you must file soon after the physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threat of violence. If the accused lives outside of Georgia, you should file the TPO in the county where the violent act or threat happened.
Hire an Attorney
After you obtain a TPO, you will benefit from experienced legal counsel as you decide what your next actions are, whether that’s filing for a more permanent protection order or filing for divorce. Consult with an attorney to learn more about your options for legally protecting yourself.
There are different types of protective orders that you can file for after a physical assault, sexual abuse, or threat of assault.
Types of Protective Orders
A TPO only lasts for 30 days or until the hearing takes place; however, it can be extended beyond 30 days if both parties agree.
On the other hand, a family violence protective order can last up to one year, but can be extended for up to three years. There are two types: ex parte family violence protective orders and final family violence protective orders.
What a Protective Order Can Do
An ex parte family violence protective order legally enforces many different protections. Most importantly, it orders the abuser not to attempt to or actually injure, mistreat, bother, follow, harass, harm, or abuse you, your family, or household members.
An ex parte family violence protective order offers additional protections, including ordering the abuser to stay a certain number of yards away from you and your children and have no contact with you.
A final family violence protective order does everything that an ex parte order does, but it also may order the abuser to go to counseling (in the hopes that the counseling will prevent any future family violence). A final family violence protective order may also award costs and attorney’s fees to either party.
What a Protective Order Can’t Do
There are a few limits on protective orders, but not many. If you and the abuser live in different states, a local judge may not have power over the abuser and may not be able to grant an order against them.
Also, a protective order may or may not prevent the abuser from owning a gun, depending on local laws. Consult with an attorney to learn more about the limits of protective orders.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
If you were the victim of domestic violence, you may fear for your own safety or the safety of your children. Know that you have options. A family law attorney can help you leverage the law to your protection.
Attorney Noreen Banks-Ware has the knowledge and experience to help you obtain the family violence protection orders you need to live in safety. The E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC proudly serves clients in Lithonia, Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, and Lawrenceville, Georgia, as well as the surrounding areas. Call today and schedule your consultation to learn more about your options.