So you’ve made the decision to separate from your significant other and he/she just won’t leave you alone, an Order of Protection may be your best opportunity of keeping yourself safe. Also, see the link listed later for other relationships where the abused is protected by a legal document.
One thing to remember, which may not be made clear by the judge issuing the order is that the person who files should not attempt to make contact with the person the order is taken out against or it could violate the order. Sometimes this will get the abused party into trouble or it could make the order tougher to enforce or it may void it altogether.
If you are thinking about taking out an Order of Protection against someone who is harassing you (you don’t have to be married), it’s best to write down events and dates as well as how you were threatened. This list can include events that happened while you were with this person and is used to establish a pattern of violence. This can help your case when you go before the judge.
Go to the Family Court office at your local courthouse and tell the clerk you wish to file an Order of Protection. For those of you in Greenville, SC, the courthouse is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 305 E. North Street. You will be given the paperwork to fill out at that time. Many Family Court offices do not charge for this service. Make sure you tell the clerk if you believe you’re in immediate danger as that will get you a hearing before the judge much faster. Sometimes within 24-48 hours. Otherwise, a hearing is usually held within 10 days of filing.
Many Family Court offices do not charge for this service. Make sure you tell the clerk if you believe you’re in immediate danger as that will get you a hearing before the judge much faster. Sometimes within 24-48 hours. Otherwise, a hearing is usually held within 10 days of filing.
Should the abuser make contact with you before the hearing, do not hesitate to call the police and tell them you have a pending hearing for the order. While it won’t usually put the abuser in jail, it will show the police you are serious about pursuing legal recourse to protect yourself.
You will be given a time to go before the Family Court judge. Don’t be alarmed if the defendant is there also as you’ll be seated on opposite sides of the courtroom. Some hearings wish for the defendant be present and others are held without the defendant’s knowledge. Be sure you have the list with any threats this person has made against you as the judge may wish to review it.
At the hearing, the judge will explain the terms of the Order of Protection to you as well as to the abuser if present. The consequences for violating the order will also be discussed.
It’s best if you can give the court an address for the person the order is being taken against. If you do not have an address or the person can’t be found then a copy of the order should be kept in your possession at all times. For the Order of Protection to be legal, the defendant must be served. Should the abuser be incarcerated at the time then the order can be served at the jail.
Depending upon the circumstances, an Order of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment will be issued.
Here is an excellent article for more information on the type of order that can be issued.
Should the abuser try to make contact after the order has been served, call 9-11 and be sure to tell the dispatcher as well as officers when they arrive that you have an Order of Protection against the person harassing you. The police take violators more seriously given the increase in criminal domestic violence cases in our area.
Do not wait until you believe your life is in danger before obtaining this document and always call the police if the abuser tries to make contact with you.