Orders of Protection

Find information on Orders of Protection, Injunctions Against Harassment, how to file and helpful links for more information.

Protective Orders include; Orders of Protection, Injunctions Against Harassment and Injunctions Against Workplace Violence.  The same Petition is used for all (3) Protective Orders.

Filing for an Order of Protection is based on a two-fold test. The first is your relationship with the Defendant and the second is whether or not a domestic violence crime has been committed; if both do not apply, then you would file an Injunction Against Harassment (see Section below).

Relationship includes:

  • Your current or former spouse,
  • Someone with whom you live or have lived with,
  • One party pregnant by the other party or the parties have a child in common,
  • You are related to the Defendant or the Defendant's spouse by blood or Court Order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister, or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law,
  • The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the Defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or has resided in the same household as the Defendant.

Domestic Violence includes:

  • You must tell the Court if there are any other Court proceedings regarding the Defendant's conduct toward you or any other Court orders in effect. It does not matter if the Court proceedings are going on now, or if they happened in the past. Tell this Court about all of them.

    • Assault
    • Aggravated Assault
    • Child or Vulnerable adult abuse
    • Criminal Damage
    • Criminal Trespass - first, second or third degree
    • Crimes Against Children
    • Custodial Interference
    • Disorderly Conduct
    • Endangerment
    • Kidnapping
    • Threatening or Intimidating
    • Unlawful Imprisonment

If you are asking the Court to issue the Injunction Against Harassment without giving the Defendant a chance to appear and defend against your allegations, you must show that great or irreparable harm will result if the Injunction Against Harassment is not issued until after the Defendant has been given notice and a chance to be heard. If the Court does not find that great and irreparable harm will result unless the Injunction Against Harassment is issued immediately, a hearing may be set and the Defendant will have a chance to be heard before an Injunction Against Harassment may be issued.

Harassment is a series of acts which:

  • Can be spread over a long or short period of time.
  • Must show a continuity of purpose.
  • Must be directed at a specific person.
  • Must seriously alarm, annoy, or harass the victim without serving a legitimate purpose.
  • Must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.
  • Must actually cause the victim to suffer substantial emotional stress.

You must be specific about how the Defendant has harassed you. Just because the Defendant annoyed or alarmed you does not mean you have been harassed in the legal sense. According to the law, harassment must involve a series of acts. A single incident, no matter how much it may bother you, does not constitute legal harassment. People cannot be prevented from taking legal action against you and Injunctions cannot resolve landlord-tenant disputes.

You must tell the Court if there are any other Court proceedings regarding the Defendant's conduct toward you or any other injunctions in effect. It does not matter if the Court proceedings are going on now, or if they happened in the past. Tell this Court about all of them.

The Judge has the authority to:

  • Order the Defendant not to commit acts of domestic violence or harassment.
  • Grant one party exclusive possession of residence (only on an Order of Protection).
  • Order the Defendant to not go near the residence, place of employment, school, or other specified locations of the other party.
  • Order the Defendant not to contact the protected parties.
  • Order other relief as necessary to protect the alleged victim or other persons. Adults living at separate addresses will not normally be included unless they are present and requesting to be included.

The Judge does not have the authority to render custody orders, order parties to pay debts, resolve property disputes, or fashion an Order of Protection affecting any visitation rights. These types of relief are appropriate for review by the Superior Court.

You can access an online Petition for Order of Protection or Petition for Injunction Against Harassment .

You may also fill out the paperwork given to you by the Court staff.

An Order of Protection can only be issued against one person. Each person you want to file against requires a separate petition. You must provide the Court with:

  • The Defendant's name and physical description
  • A list of all specific facts of domestic violence or harassment that the Defendant has committed within the past year (the 1 year requirement may be waived if the defendant is out of state, incarcerated, or good cause is shown).
  • Your address and phone number so the Court can contact you if the Defendant requests a hearing. Upon your request, this information will be withheld from the Defendant.
  • An address at which the defendant can be legally served with the Court's order. Remember - you can request an Order or Injunction without the address - but it is not effective until the defendant is served.

After you complete the paperwork, you will be scheduled before a Judge who will review your petition. This appearance is usually on the same day. The Judge will decide whether to issue the Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment.

Order of Protection

If the Judge issues the Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment, you must have the Defendant served with the Order before it will be effective. Once an Order has been served, it will be in effect for one year.

You may use a private process server for Orders of Protection, or you may request a law enforcement agency to serve the order.

If you use a private process server, you are responsible for arranging service of process.

If you do not presently know where the Defendant is, or do not have an accurate address, you should keep the certified copy of the Order. As soon as you learn where the Defendant is, you can contact a private process server or the police, so that they may attempt to serve the defendant. The Order must be served within one year of it being issued.

If the defendant is in jail, the Police may be able to serve the Order of Protection or the Injunction Against Harassment. If the Defendant is in the process of being released, there may not be enough time to have service completed.

Once an Order of Protection, or an Injunction Against Harassment has been served, it will be in effect for one year.

The Defendant may request a hearing on the order/injunction one time during the time in which it is in effect. A hearing will be held within 10 days from the date requested unless the Court finds compelling reasons to continue the hearing. If you (the plaintiff) have been granted exclusive use of the residence, the hearing will then be held within 5 days.

During the period of time your Order/Injunction is in effect your circumstances may change. You must appear in person and request a modification to the Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment to change the Order/Injunction. The Defendant will have an opportunity to be heard as well.

If a petition for dissolution or separation of marriage is filed, you must notify the Court immediately and the proceedings will be transferred to Superior Court.

Violation of the Court Order is a criminal charge.

If the Defendant violates the Order of Protection or Harassment Injunction, you should call 9-1-1 for all emergencies or if you only want to file a police report, call the law enforcement agency where the violation occurred.

Do not call the Court to report violations.

A decision to file criminal charges is made by a Prosecutor's Office, not by the Court.