The process for obtaining a court order of protection, also known as a restraining order, varies by jurisdiction. In many cases, you will be required to go to court and explain to a judge why you believe you need a court order of protection. You may be asked to show evidence that you or your family members are at risk of violence or harassment. After a judge grants your restraining order, you will typically have to have it served to the individual or individuals from whom you need protection. In some cases, the individual to whom you've served a court order of protection may be able to request a hearing in order to give his side of the story and to have the protection order lifted or modified.
As the laws governing restraining orders are different in each jurisdiction, it is important that you find out what the process is in your area. If you are confused about the process, you can check out your local courthouse's website for information about the process or visit the courthouse and ask the clerk for the paperwork necessary to request a court order of protection. Local law enforcement agencies may also be able to direct you in getting a restraining order, as can domestic violence groups and social service agencies. While some people use an attorney to make a request for a court order of protection, you may not need legal counsel to do so.
In many cases, you are required by law to formally serve the target of your court order of protection with the certified document. The process for serving someone with legal papers also varies by jurisdiction, and you may be required to hire a sheriff's deputy, a constable, or private process server to serve the restraining order. In some cases, the restraining order does not go into effect until it is actually legally served, so you'll want to make sure that the service is completed quickly after a judge grants a request.
Be prepared for the target of your restraining order to request a hearing challenging your court order of protection. If this happens, contact your lawyer if you have one or your caseworker from a domestic violence shelter or social service agency. You may have to go to court and present evidence that challenges the target's version of events. You should also be aware that restraining orders usually expire after a certain period of time. Check the date on your copy of the restraining order so you know when you need to go back to court to renew your request.