Family Violence TPOs and PPOs - protect yourself in a family violence or roommate violence situation
If you or someone you know is facing domestic abuse, a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a legal remedy that can help provide protection. In Georgia, a TPO is a civil restraining order issued by the court that requires the abuser to stay away from the victim and may also include other provisions such as prohibiting contact, possession of firearms, and even temporary custody of children. The order is valid for up to 12 months and can be renewed if necessary. It is essential to know that a TPO can be an effective tool to ensure your safety, but it is crucial to take immediate action and seek help from a qualified attorney or domestic violence organization to guide you through the process swiftly. Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their home, and a TPO can provide you with the security and protection to start the healing process from family violence.
What is Family Violence?
In Georgia, the term "family violence" has a specific legal definition. It encompasses a range of acts that can occur between individuals who currently or previously lived together in the same household. This includes spouses, parents and children, stepfamilies, and foster families - as well as unrelated roommates. The definition of the acts covered includes any felony, as well as a list of specific offenses such as battery, assault, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, and stalking. Despite its legal definition, family violence is a complex issue that affects countless individuals and families. Thankfully, Georgia courts allow for victims of family violence to seek refuge, not only with the police, but with the filing of a protective order or TPO, in order to keep the abuser from further harming or harassing the victim for a period of up to 12 months.
The TPO Process
If you or a loved one have experienced family violence in Georgia, it's important to know that obtaining a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) can help provide some level of protection and peace of mind during a tumultuous time. The process begins by filing a petition with the court in the county where the respondent (the aggressor) lives, which can be done with the help of an attorney or through self-representation. If the respondent does not live in Georgia, but the violence occurred in Georgia, then you may file either where you, the petitioner live, or in the county where the violence happened.
Once filed, the judge will usually hear you right away in what is called an ex parte hearing, because the other side is not there. At that hearing, you'll explain to the judge why you believe you need the family violence TPO to protect yourself and any minor children involved. If the judge thinks you have a case, he or she will grant an ex parte TPO, and it will be served on the respondent. You will get a court date for a TPO hearing to see if the ex parte TPO should be extended for another 12 months, or if it should be canceled. This hearing will be within 30 days of you filing your petition for the TPO, and the respondent will appear and be allowed to give testimony and evidence as to why the TPO should not be granted - while you and your attorney, if you hire one, will be allowed to give evidence as to why the TPO should be granted.
If a TPO is granted, it typically lasts for up to 12 months and requires the respondent to stay away from the petitioner and any named family members or household members. The court can also include any of the following items in the order for the TPO:
- Direct the respondent to refrain from the acts constituting family violence.
- Grant possession of the residence or household of the parties to one party and exclude the other party from the residence or household.
- Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent, and the parties' child or children.
- Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights.
- Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent's eviction has not been ordered.
- Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law.
- Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law.
- Provide for possession of personal property of the parties.
- Order the respondent to refrain from harassing or interfering with the victim.
- Award costs and attorney's fees to either party.
- Order the respondent to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.
It's important to note that violating a TPO can lead to criminal charges. While the process may seem daunting, remember that there are resources and professionals available to support and guide you through it.
What Happens When Someone Violates the TPO
Family violence is a serious issue that affects thousands of people every year in Georgia. Those who are victims of this violence often seek legal protection through what is known as a Temporary Protective Order (TPO). This order is designed to help prevent further violence, intimidation, or harassment from the perpetrator. When someone violates a TPO, the consequences can be severe. This could include fines, jail time, and the possibility of additional charges, depending on the circumstances. The court has the power to punish someone who violates a provision of a TPO through sanctions or jail time, called contempt. The police have the power to arrest someone and charge them with Stalking or Aggravated Stalking if they catch the respondent in the act of contacting or being within the restricted physical location of the petitioner/victim - which are separate criminal charges. If you or someone you know is the victim of family violence and has obtained a TPO, it is vital to take any violation of that order seriously and report it to the authorities immediately. Remember, you have the right to be safe, and violating a TPO is not only dangerous but is also against the law.
How to Convert a TPO to a PPO
Although TPOs for family violence generally last only one year, it could be that you or your loved one would not be safe without the TPO, due to past acts of violence by the respondent, or even violations during the TPO period by the respondent. In that case, you can file a motion to convert the TPO (temporary protective order) to a PPO (permanent protective order). "Permanent" is a little misleading, for the court has the discretion to convert your TPO to either a three-year PPO, or an actual lifetime permanent PPO. In order to request this conversion, you must file a motion and get a court hearing prior to the expiration of your TPO. You will serve the respondent with notice and a copy of this motion and hearing, and you will both have the opportunity to be heard in court as to why the judge should or should not convert your TPO to a PPO. It's important to have all your evidence and witnesses ready for this hearing, as you only get one shot at this. If the court grants the PPO, it will be valid for either three years or for your lifetime. However, if the court denies this request, then the TPO will expire at the time it is set to, and you will not have any further protection. You would have to wait until the respondent does something else of family violence against you in order to obtain another TPO against him or her. It is important to note that the process to convert to a PPO can be complex, so seeking the assistance of a trusted legal professional is advised to help ensure that your rights and safety are protected.
How We Can Help
At Your Law Firm, we understand that family violence can be a challenging and sensitive issue. Our team of knowledgeable legal professionals is committed to giving you the support and guidance you need to obtain a family violence TPO, or convert a 12-month TPO into a 3-year or lifetime PPO. We are well-equipped to navigate the legal process and provide compassionate assistance throughout the entire experience. We know that every situation is unique, and we take the time to listen to your specific needs and goals. With our team by your side, you can feel confident that you are in good hands. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you protect your family and your rights.