Restraining Orders to Prevent Contact With a Child


All states allow a parent or legal guardian of a minor child to file a restraining order, also known as a order of protection or protective order, on behalf of a child. Some states will allow a child age 16 or older to request a protective order without needing a parent or guardian in limited circumstances. While the process varies from state to state, you will need to file a petition for protective order in your local courthouse and appear before a judge to obtain the protective order. The clerk's office will help you complete the necessary paperwork, and no filing fee is required.

Protective Orders Generally

  • Protective orders are court orders that protect a petitioner, which is the individual seeking protection, from potential harm or abuse by the respondent in a domestic situation. These orders can require no harm and no contact, can order the respondent to vacate a residence where the petitioner resides, or remove children from the presence of the respondent. A protective order can also order a respondent to pay restitution for any damages caused to the petitioner's property or person.

Protective Order for a Minor

  • Protective orders can be requested by the parent, guardian or a adult member of a household for the benefit of a minor. Some states also allow a married minor, or a minor with children, to file for a protective order on their own behalf without the need for a parent or guardian, if the petition is against a spouse or parent of that minor's child.

Application Process

  • Visit your local courthouse and complete a petition for an order of protection. You will need to complete a narrative that tells the court what happened, and why you feel you are in danger. The court clerk is authorized to help you complete the form, so you can rely on the clerk's guidance. Emergency petitions are typically heard immediately. A judge will review the petition at a hearing to review the merits. Emergency orders, called ex parte, can be issued without the respondent present. The court will grant you a short-term protective order -- typically 30 days -- and set the matter for hearing on a long-term order of protection. The police or county sheriff department will serve the protective order on the respondent once it is approved.

Duration of Protective Order

  • The court will have a hearing on a long-term protective order that is typically set a month out from the emergency order. The respondent will appear, if he so chooses, at this hearing, and be allowed to present his side of the case. Note that your emergency petition will be given to him, so he will be able to see and respond to your narrative. Either party can choose to retain an attorney if they so choose. If the court grants a long-term protective order, these can last for one to three years.


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