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What is an Order of Protection?
An order of protection is a court order intended to prevent acts of domestic violence. A person who believes that they themselves or a family member are or may become victims of domestic violence may submit a request (petition) to any court for the issuance of an order of protection. The person you want an order against must have committed or threatened to commit an act of domestic violence within the last year. A child may not be included in an order of protection if the person against whom you are seeking the order is his/her parent, unless that person has committed domestic violence against the child. You must seek custody orders in a separate action in Superior Court.
 
The person filing the injunction is called the plaintiff. The person whom the injunction is filed against is called the defendant.
 
Where do I file a petition for an order of protection?
A petition may be filed in any of the Justice Courts Monday through Friday during normal business hours.
 
The petition should be filed in Superior Court if you are involved in a pending legal action related to divorce, legal separation, paternity, child support, custody or visitation. To begin, contact any of the courts in the county:
  
  Justice Court
  Superior Court

 
*After hours, call 911 for emergency protection order.

 
*For Additional Questions, contact the courts in the links listed above.
After 5:00 p.m. weekdays, or at any time on a weekend or holiday, an emergency order of protection can be requested by contacting any law enforcement agency. In case of an emergency, call 911.
 
How do I file?
You must complete the paperwork given to you by court staff. An order of protection can only be issued against one person. Each person you want to file against requires a separate petition. There is no fee for filing. After you complete the paperwork, you will be scheduled before a judge who will review your petition and either grant or deny the order.


What happens if the order is granted?
If the judge grants the order, a member of the clerk's staff will complete the paperwork for you. The defendant must be served with the order before it becomes effective. Court staff will explain how to arrange for service. There is no fee for serving the defendant. Once an order has been served, it will be in effect for twelve (12) months. It is important to keep a copy of the order of protection with you at all times.


Can the Order of Protection be changed or modified?
The defendant may file a Request for Hearing to contest, change or modify the order. Court staff will then schedule a hearing and all parties will be notified. If your order of protection gives you exclusive right to your home, the hearing will be scheduled within five (5) court days of the defendant's request. If you do not have an exclusive right to your home, the hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) court days.

If you have a pending family law related action in Superior Court, the hearing will be held in Superior Court. The court location is determined by the location of where the plaintiff filed the petition.

The court will mail a copy of the notice of hearing to you specifying the location, date and time of the hearing.


What if the Order of Protection involves a minor?
Any petition for an order of protection sought against a person who is less than twelve years of age shall be filed in the Juvenile Court and in those cases in which the defendant and the plaintiff are both parties to an open dependency case.
 

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