Restraining/Protective Orders

Restraining and protective orders are some of the most common petitions made to the Superior Court. What is the difference between a restraining and a protective order? When are they issued, and what do they do? What are the steps for getting one issued?

Essentially, a restraining order and a protective order are the same thing. The circumstances involved in the case are what determines if the request should be called a “restraining” or a “protective” order.

The first step to request either type of order is to file a petition in the office of the Clerk of Court. The petition is then forwarded to a Superior Court judge for consideration. If a temporary order is granted, a hearing is arranged. A permanent restraining or protective order may or may not be the result of the hearing.

An automatic restraining order, called a “standing order,” is issued for a divorce. This order may become permanent, depending on the case.

In what circumstances may they be issued?
Since their purpose is to restrain certain conduct on the part of an individual, one of their main uses is to prohibit harassment of or violence against an individual or individuals. In other cases they may be used to evict a person from a residence or help someone return to a residence to live or just to retrieve personal property.

In cases of divorce, they may be used to grant temporary custody and visiting rights or possession of the family residence or provide alternate housing for a spouse and children.

What kind of protection do they provide?
Basically, the amount of protection the victim receives depends on the amount of respect the offender has for a court order. Since a piece of paper cannot change a person’s attitude, nor can it physically prevent someone from disobeying, is there any advantage to having it? Yes. If a person does violate the terms of an order, he/she will be arrested and will face the consequences of his/her defiance.

Filing a Petition for a Restraining or Protective Order
Restraining or protective orders are issued through a Superior Court Judge, but the process of obtaining such an order begins when an attorney or a community service agency (which aids victims of domestic violence, such as Circle of Hope), files a petition for an order in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court. Individuals may also file their own petitions, but Clerk of Court employees do not have the forms to give out to the general public, nor can they provide any kind of legal advice about the matter.

Once a petition is on record in this office, it is assigned to one of the Superior Court Judges for consideration and becomes the responsibility of that court. If the judge grants a temporary order, a hearing is scheduled. Any permanent orders that are issued as a result of the hearing are signed by the judge and filed in this office.

Copies of orders on file may be obtained any time during normal business hours.

Circle of Hope offers shelter and services for battered women and their children in the Stephens, Habersham and White Counties. One of their services is help in obtaining a temporary protective order. To contact Circle of Hope, call 706-776-HOPE (706-776-4673) or 1-800-33-HAVEN (1-800-334-2836).

Click here for Family Violence/Protective Order forms

Click here for information on Circle of Hope Services for Victims of Domestic Violence