What is a temporary restraining order (TRO)?

A TRO is a court order providing temporary protection to a victim of abuse, including but not limited to physical, sexual, mental and emotional, verbal and even harassment.

How do I obtain a TRO?

A restraining order can be obtained from the family court in the county where you live or the county where the abuser lives. If the courthouse is closed when you need to obtain a TRO, the police can contact a judge who can issue the TRO.

What information do I need to provide to obtain a TRO?

You will be asked to fill out a domestic violence civil complaint. In addition to your name and date of birth, you will need to provide the name and contact information for the abuser, along with any personal identifiers, such as height, weight, hair and eye color. Specific details of how, when and where you were abused, injured or threatened will need to be disclosed. Be as descriptive as possible.

What happens after the domestic violence complaint is filled out?

A judge will review the complaint and determine if sufficient evidence exists to issue the TRO. If granted, the TRO will be served on the abuser by the police and remain in effect until a hearing takes place to determine if a final restraining order will be granted.

What happens at the final hearing?

Several things can happen at the final hearing. If you change your mind about needing protection, you can dismiss your TRO. If you feel that you continue to need protection from abuse, you will have a trial, give testimony, and present evidence. The abuser will also be allowed to present evidence, give testimony, and cross-examine you. After your evidence is complete, the judge will decide whether you have established by a preponderance of the evidence that the abuser committed an act of domestic violence and whether you will need protection from the court to prevent abuse in the future. The third option at trial is to dismiss your TRO and enter into a civil agreement with the defendant containing no contact provisions. A civil agreement can also address custody and financial issues.