What to Do When Your Ex Violates a Restraining Order

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States have different rules for getting a restraining order, but most states make it relatively easy to get at least a temporary restraining order. Restraining orders for domestic violence make it illegal to harm, contact, or be around the victim of domestic abuse. However, not all domestic abusers can keep their hands off their victims, leading to their arrest and prosecution if they violated a restraining order.

Pros and Cons of Restraining Orders

Domestic violence restraining orders, known as DRVOs for short, may help protect you and your children from violence or the threat of violence, but these orders have their pros and cons.

Unfortunately, abusers often ignore the law, and some may become angrier because you sought protection. The process of getting a DVRO might be complicated, depending on your home state’s laws.

Generally, you can get a protection order if your domestic partner has abused you in the past, and you have reason to believe the abuse may continue. You must also have a close relationship with the abuser: marriage, cohabitation or living temporarily with someone.

The close relationship can be defined as:

  • Married, cohabiting, or living as registered domestic partners;
  • Divorced or separated;
  • Dating currently or in the past;
  • Used to live together;
  • Co-parent children together;
  • You are a close relative like a child, brother, sister, parent, etc.

Different kinds of restraining orders include temporary, permanent, and more restrictive provisions, such as prohibiting contact at work or places you are known to frequent.

Steps to Take if an Abuser Violates the Protection Order

You should take the following steps when a restraining order is violated:

  • Call the police. When a law enforcement officer arrives, show them a copy of the order. You can ask the officer to serve the order to provide compelling evidence that the abuser has been properly notified. Ask for a Proof of Personal Service form for you to file with the court. Any further disagreements will result in the abuser’s immediate arrest.
  • Gather proof of the violation. The abuser might not hang around after you call the police, so it’s important to gather any evidence that proves the violation. This can include witnesses, personal items left behind, and an outline of what happened exactly. Make copies of voicemail threats, email communications, and medical reports if you were injured during the encounter.
  • Get extra copies of the restraining order. Making copies of the order and handing them to key people in your life is a wise precaution. For example, giving a copy to your boss might help prevent the abuser from contacting you. Distribute copies to any place from which the abuser is prohibited from setting foot.
  • Keep a copy with you at all times. You never know when the abuser might show up, so you should keep a copy of the order on you all the time.

Consequences of Restraining Order Violations

You can have the abuser arrested immediately if they violate the terms of the protective order. Violating the order may result in civil and criminal penalties. You and your attorney have the right to talk to the district attorney to learn how they plan to prosecute the case.

You may add impetus to prosecuting the case with criminal charges that could result in long jail sentences. You can also file a civil contempt of court charge for violating the protective order.

The abuser could be forced to serve five days in jail for each violation of the order, and persistent abusers often violate the restraining order many times. Contempt charges are very serious charges, and they should be held in reserve as a last resort against someone who continues to violate the order.