Your closest relationships should be the ones in which you feel the most secure and safe. Unfortunately, too many people, most of them women, are endangered by the actions of intimate partners or family members. When you experience violence or threats in a close relationship, you may feel as if you have nowhere to turn. Abusers often isolate their victims from social support systems and cut off their financial resources to make them dependent on the abuser.
If you are being hurt, harassed, or threatened by someone close to you, you do have options. You can file for an Order of Protection (OP). At Welty Law Office, we help our clients file for Orders of Protection both in conjunction with a divorce or custody case or as a stand-alone matter.
You can get an Order of Protection against an abusive spouse or ex-spouse, co-parent, family member (including by marriage), roommate, or someone you have dated. You can also get an OP against someone who has sexually assaulted or stalked you. An OP allows the police to arrest your abuser, who is called the respondent, without a warrant if they violate the terms of the order.
There are different types of Orders of Protection. You can file for an OP in the court clerk’s office. You can be granted a Temporary Order of Protection immediately if you may be in imminent danger. The temporary order prevents the respondent from contacting you and is in place for fifteen days until a hearing on your petition for an Order of Protection. Both you and the respondent have a right to be heard regarding whether the OP should be extended. You will have the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony to support your petition.
If the judge in your case agrees that your OP should be extended, the order will be in place for one year, and can then be extended further, if needed. In addition to ordering the respondent not to contact, threaten, harm, or harass you, an extended OP can award you possession of a home you share with the respondent, custody of your shared children, financial support from the respondent, and other resources.
If the respondent violates an OP, whether a temporary or extended order, he or she may be arrested, fined up to $2,500, and jailed for up to 11 months and 29 days. If you are involved in a divorce or custody case with the respondent, an OP, and especially violation of an OP, can negatively affect the respondent’s child custody rights. If you live in Tennessee and are being abused, please also reach out to the Tennessee Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-356-6767.
You are not required to have an attorney to get an Order of Protection, but there are many good reasons to have one. An attorney experienced in domestic abuse matters understands the legal process and can explain it to you. She understands what evidence the court needs to provide you with the protection you need. Lastly, she can provide you with the support you need to get through the hearing process, which can be intimidating, especially when you must face your abuser. You don’t have to do it alone.
Attorney Rachel Welty has worked with many survivors of domestic violence, helping them get not only protection from their abusers but custody of their children and the support they need to build a life that is free from fear and abuse. Unlike many family law attorneys, she is an experienced litigator and effective courtroom advocate. She also understands that the process of obtaining an OP is not just a legal one, but an emotional one; she guides clients through the process with both compassion and strength.
You and your children deserve to live in safety and peace. As a child advocacy-centered family law practice, Welty Law Office recognizes that helping parents obtain protection from domestic violence helps their children to grow and thrive in a healthier environment. You want the best for your children; we want the best for all of you, and we work to help you achieve it.
We invite you to contact Welty Law Office to schedule a consultation to discuss your Tennessee Order of Protection needs.