How to Get A Restraining Order in Tennessee

September 08, 2023

How Can You Protect Yourself From Harassment, Abuse, or Stalking in Tennessee?

No one should have to live in fear of harm from another person. A restraining order is a legal document that restricts the movements and actions of one person to protect a victim from further injury. If the individual violates the terms of the restraining order, they can face serious legal consequences.

A restraining order may be used in many situations. It can be a valuable tool for people who have experienced intimate partner abuse and are attempting to remove themselves from the circumstances through divorce. It can also prevent harm to your children and prohibit your partner from moving with them until the court has settled your custody arrangements. If you have questions about whether a restraining order may be beneficial in your case and how to get one, please reach out to our helpful protection orders attorneys at Brighter Day Law.

What are Restraining Orders?

A restraining order is a court-approved order that instructs an individual to cease contact with another person. The individual named in the restraining order can be a stranger, a relative, a co-worker, or anyone else who has caused harm to the person petitioning for the order.

Situations that may qualify for a restraining order include:

  • Domestic abuse, including both physical and emotional harm.
  • Stalking behaviors that cause a victim to fear for their safety.
  • Sexual assault, including sex trafficking and all non-consensual sex acts.

It’s important to note that you can get a restraining order even if no physical injury has occurred. Fear of harm can be sufficient grounds for the court to issue an order.

What is a Protection Order?

You may hear the terms “restraining order” and “protection order” used interchangeably. However, a protection order is a specific type of restraining order used to safeguard an individual from harm perpetrated by a partner, relative, family member living in the home, or a current or former spouse. The forms for an order of protection can be downloaded from the Tennessee State Courts Website.

An order of protection is often considered more powerful than a general restraining order because the court may order these additional forms of relief to the victim:

  • Full possession of a shared residence or other housing paid for by the defendant.
  • Financial support payments to the victim if they are married.
  • Court-ordered counseling for the defendant.
  • Temporary custody of minor children.
  • Possession of any pets or animals owned by the victim or their children.
  • Transfer of billing for cell phone service to the victim.
  • Payment of court costs by the defendant.
  • A Tennessee family law attorney can help you evaluate your circumstances and determine which variety of restraining order is best for your situation.

How Do You Obtain a Restraining Order?

You must petition the court in the Tennessee county where the individual lives or where the abusive actions occurred. To ensure you meet all the requirements for the petition, you should contact the county court or an experienced attorney for instructions.

The general steps for getting a restraining order are as follows:

  • Gather and fill out the necessary forms. Include detailed information about the behaviors that have prompted you to request the restraining order and attach any required proof.
  • Bring the unsigned forms to the appropriate county clerk. They will instruct you on how to sign and submit them properly.
  • Attend an ex parte hearing (if you requested a temporary restraining order). The defendant will not be informed of this hearing, but you can present your evidence to the judge, and they may grant temporary protections for 15 days.
  • Schedule a full hearing. The defendant will be notified. You must both attend this hearing, and the defendant will be able to present their side of the story. The judge will consider the evidence, decide whether to extend the restraining order for up to one year and determine the terms, if necessary.

The assistance of a lawyer is not required for these proceedings, but it is recommended. Victims filing for a restraining order are in danger of harm, and ensuring they present a strong case is critical to extending the order and securing their safety.

What Protections Does a Restraining Order Provide?

If you can show by a preponderance of evidence that you are in danger of harm from the defendant, the judge will sign a restraining order that requires the defendant to do the following:

  • Avoid physical and indirect contact with you and your children, including ceasing emails, phone calls, letters, and other forms of communication, even through third parties.
  • Stay away from your home, work, and any other place you are located. If you live together, the defendant may be required to move or pay for other suitable housing for you.
  • Surrender their firearms to a third party while the order is active.

As noted above, specific restraining orders may include other stipulations the defendant must follow. The length of the restraining order depends on the type. Temporary orders are effective for 15 days or until a full hearing can be scheduled. Extended restraining orders can last up to a year and may be extended for one-year periods at the court’s discretion. If the individual has committed a felony against the victim, a lifetime protection order may be requested. Defendants who violate an order can be arrested and face charges for their actions.

How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?

Abuse, stalking, and sexual assault are serious acts, and getting protection from the perpetrator is vital to your and your children’s safety. Our compassionate lawyers at Brighter Day Law can help you petition for a Tennessee restraining order and take other necessary legal steps to protect your well-being so you can move on from this scary situation. Contact our law firm today to schedule a confidential consultation: 615-437-8808.

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