WHAT IS A TEMPORARY PROTECTIVE ORDER?
A “TPO” is a civil (i.e. not criminal) order that may be issued when family violence or stalking has occurred. It can:
- Prohibit the abuser from doing certain things (like contacting you, coming within 200 yards of you, going to your home or workplace, and/or purchasing or possessing a firearm).
- Require the abuser to do certain things that are needed to keep you and your children safe (like moving out of the shared residence, paying temporary support, returning property to you, and/or providing an alternative place for you and your children to stay).
- Award temporary child custody and visitation.
- Require the abuser to reimburse you for any expenses you have incurred related to the abuse (like medical bills, lost wages, damage to your property).
- Require the abuser to attend domestic violence counseling, get substance abuse treatment, and/or psychiatric treatment.
IS A TPO THE SAME AS A BOND CONDITION?
- No. A bond condition is a criminal order that is issued after the abuser has been arrested and granted bond. It requires the abuser to do certain things as a condition of being released from jail. It is not as broad as a TPO and lasts only as long as the criminal case is pending.
- You can have a bond condition and a TPO in place at the same time.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO FILE FOR A TPO?
- A valid driver’s license or I.D., if possible.
- The address where the abuser can be served with a copy of the legal papers.
- There is no cost for filing.
WHERE SHOULD YOU FILE?
- If the abuser is a Georgia resident, you must apply in the Superior Court of the county where the abuser resides.
- If the abuser lives in a different state, but the abusive acts occurred within the state of Georgia, you may apply in the Superior Court of the county where you reside or where the incident took place.
- If the abuser lives in a different state, and the abusive acts occurred outside the state of Georgia, you should consult with an attorney about whether Georgia courts have jurisdiction over your case.
- NOTE: Harassing and abusive phone calls, text messages, and internet activity alone which are made from outside the state of Georgia to someone within the state of Georgia are typically not sufficient for Georgia courts to have jurisdiction over the matter. You should consult with an attorney if you are in this situation.
- If you are filing in Fulton County, you can go to the One Stop office, located on the 8th Floor of the Fulton County Courthouse at 136 Pryor Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. However, note that hearings are held three (3) times per day: at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. You should arrive two (2) hours before the hearing you want to attend. If you arrive too late, you may not be able to see a judge the same day.
- When the abuser is an intimate partner, or when there is a parent-child relationship with the other party, or if the person filing is a victim of elder abuse, the One Stop Office will provide a referral to the Safe Families Office for legal and safety planning assistance as well as referrals to other community agencies. The Safe Families Office is a collaboration among Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF), Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV), and the Fulton County Superior Court.
WHO CAN FILE FOR A TPO?
- You must be 18 years old.
- If you are a minor, any adult may apply on your behalf.
- You must be a victim of family violence or stalking.
WHAT MUST YOU SHOW TO FILE A FAMILY VIOLENCE TPO?
- An act of family violence, which includes: any felony, battery, simple battery, assault, stalking, criminal trespass, or unlawful restraint.
- That you and your abuser have any of the following special relationships to each other: current or former spouses, people who currently or formerly lived together, people who have a child together, or a parent-child relationship (including stepparents and stepchildren and foster parents and foster children).
WHAT MUST YOU SHOW TO FILE A STALKING TPO?
- A pattern of stalking behavior.
- You do not have to show a special relationship to the other party. Click here for a log to document stalking behaviors to help you prepare for court. stalking-incident-log_pdf
WHAT IS THE TPO PROCESS?
- You will complete paperwork which explains why you need a TPO.
- You will then see a judge who will consider giving you an emergency TPO. This is called an ex parte TPO, and it only lasts up to 30 days.
- If the judge grants the ex parte TPO, you will be given a date to return to court for a more detailed hearing. The abuser must be served with a copy of this paperwork. The abuser has a right to attend and present his/her side. At this second hearing, you must show that the ex parte TPO should be extended. It is important to bring all evidence and witnesses to the second hearing. Click here for a handout with more details about the second hearing. What to Expect for Your 12-Month TPO Hearing Packet and Safety Plan.
HOW LONG DOES A TPO LAST?
- An ex parte TPO lasts until your second hearing is held, but if the abuser has not been served by that time, your hearing may be rescheduled to a later date and the ex parte TPO will remain in effect until that next court date. However, in no event will an ex parte TPO be valid for longer than 30 days. If your ex parte TPO expires before the abuser has been served, you may refile.
- At the second hearing, the court may extend the ex parte TPO up to an additional 12 months.
- If you are granted a 12-Month Protective Order, you may file a Motion to Extend it up to three (3) years or permanently by filing such a Motion before your 12-Month Protective Order expires.
DO YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY?
- You are not required to have an attorney, but one may be helpful, particularly if there are children involved.
FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE MAY BE AVAILABLE IF YOUR CASE QUALIFIES