If you have been the victim of domestic violence or abuse by a partner or relative, the law allows for immediate protective measures to ensure your safety and, in some cases, the safety of any joint minor children. A court may issue a restraining order that restricts contact between the abuser and the victim.

“Abuse” and “domestic violence” are defined by the law and may include actual physical altercations, threats or intimidation, and reckless conduct that causes another person to be afraid for their physical safety. Like many areas of the law, the particular facts of each situation will greatly influence the outcome of the case. Each state has established procedures to obtain protective court orders or, if you have been accused of committing an act of abuse or domestic violence, to seek a hearing to contest the alleged abuse.

In other circumstances that do not include physical acts of violence, a person may still be entitled to a restraining order to prevent unwanted contact or harassment (an “anti-stalking” order). The legal requirements and possible protections are slightly different compared to restraining orders, but are still be effective resolutions in most cases.


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