Allegations of domestic violence are especially common before or after a couple separate. It is important that you take a restraining order very seriously, even if the accusation is completely false. If you have been named in a restraining order, follow these steps:

  • If you are at your home when you are “served” with a restraining order that orders you to leave the house, take the following items with you (ideally you assembled these items in advance):
    • Checkbook, credit cards, and ATM card
    • Legal documents such as titles to property, passports, pre-nuptial agreements, child custody orders, etc.
    • Any evidence of your partner’s abusive actions
    • Laptop computer
    • A two-week supply of clothes, including clothes to wear for the final court hearing
  • Do not try to “dodge” or delay the order being served to you. Time is of the essence. The sooner you can get the papers, the sooner you can begin to plan your legal defense strategy.
  • Read and re-read the restraining order carefully and be sure to follow the terms of the order. Highlight the restraint portions.
  • “No contact” means exactly that — “no contact:”
    • Do not telephone, send a text message, send a Facebook message, send a card, send a letter, or fax a message.
    • Do not send an email or even a “Reply All” email message if your partner is on the list.
    • Remove the partner’s name from your phone contact list, so your cell phone doesn’t accidentally dial that person.
    • Do not send a message to your partner through a friend or family member.
    • Do not try to send an anonymous message.
  • In many states, failing to follow the strict requirements of the restraining order can land you in jail. If the order says to stay at least 300 feet away from your partner, do not go to a soccer game and sit on the opposite side of the field, thinking that represents 300 feet. If necessary, draw a map to stay away from the “forbidden zone.”
  • Get legal help from a private attorney, Legal Aide, or other legal resources. If you can’t afford an attorney, you’ll need to represent yourself at the final hearing. (See “Should I Consider Representing Myself in Court?”)
  • Learn everything you can about the legal process. Attend a session of the domestic violence court, if your county has one. Talk to friends who have gone through the experience. Do internet searches.

Take a restraining order seriously and follow its requirements closely. Get legal help. Learn about the legal process. And don’t allow yourself to be tricked into violating the terms of the restraining order.

SAVE Special Report:

The Use and Abuse of Domestic Restraining Orders. 

Video:

A woman on the Dr. Phil show admits to making a false allegation of domestic violence.

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