What is a TPO?A temporary protective order is a court order to help protect you from someone who is abusing, threatening or harassing you. A TPO can be used against both family and non-family members.
How can a TPO help you?The TPO will require the abuser to stay away from you, your home and your work. The abuser will be prohibited from contacting you in any way. The court can order the abuser to stay away from your children if the court feels they are at risk. In addition, the court can order other types of relief in the TPO, such as temporary custody, support and possession of vehicles.
Getting a TPO does not mean the abuser goes to jail. The TPO makes it easier for the police to arrest the abuser if they violate the order regardless of whether or not they physically harm you.
How do I get a TPO?There must be a recent threat or act of physical violence or stalking in order to obtain a TPO. The temporary protective order must be filed in the county where the abuser resides. If the abuser lives out of state, the TPO may be filed in the Georgia county where you live or where the violence occurred.
You may file for a TPO at the Superior Clerk's office. You must know the abuser's name and current work and/or home address. After your paper work is processed, it will be presented to a judge. You must be ready to tell the judge about the violence that has occurred. The judge will want to know if you believe the abuse will continue.
If the judge grants you a TPO, the sheriff's office will serve the abuser with a copy of the order. A hearing will be held within 30 days so the judge can hear from both sides. You must attend the hearing or your order will expire.
At the hearing, the judge will decide the length of the TPO. Here the court can also decide other issues such as temporary custody, support for your children or you, and substance abuse treatment for your abuser. If there is a new threat of violence you can go back to court before the TPO expires and ask that the order be extended or made permanent.
What is family violence?The Georgia Code 19-13-1 defines family violence as certain kinds of crimes between people who have certain relationships to each other. Such crimes include battery, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass and any felony. The people must be connected to each other as past or present spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.
What is stalking?Stalking is the obsessive following, observing, or contacting of another person, or the obsessive attempt to engage in any of these activities. This includes following the person to certain places to see where they live or what the person does on a daily basis. It also includes seeking and obtaining one's personal information in order to contact him or her; i.e. looking for his or her details on computers, electoral rolls, personal files and other material containing the person's private information without his or her consent.
In the state of Georgia, stalking can be grounds for obtaining a TPO regardless if you are related to the abuser or not.