According to the Family Violence Protective Orders: A Self-Help Manual for Victims of Family Violence prepared by Georgia Legal Services Program, “Before you prepare and file a family violence case, you must decide if the law applies to you and your situation. It does not apply to all persons and all acts of violence. There are two tests under this law. They are (1) the relationship test and (2) the violence test.
The Relationship Test – The violence must be between people who have some relationship now or in the past. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you meet the relationship test: 1. Is the violence between you and your husband/wife or former husband/wife? 2. Is the violence between you and the other parent of your child? 3. Is the violence between you and your parents, stepparents/foster parents? 4. Is the violence between you and your children, stepchildren/foster children? 5. Is the violence between you and a person who is living in the same household?
The Violence Test – The violent act must be a certain type of act. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you meet the violence test. 1. Is the act a felony? (A felony is a crime defined by state law as a felony. Some examples are homicide, attempted homicide, rape, arson.) 2. Is the act a battery or simple battery? (When a person intentionally and wrongfully touches another, or causes physical harm to another.) 3. Is the act an assault or simple assault? (When a person attempts to injure another, or put another person in reasonable fear of being hurt.) 4. Is the act stalking? (When a person follows or contacts another for the purpose of harassing and intimidating.) 5. Is the act criminal damage to property? (When a person illegally damages property.) 6. Is the act unlawful restraint? (When a person illegally arrests, confines, or detains another person.) 7. Is the act a criminal trespass? (when a person damages property of another valued at $500 or less, or when a person knowingly or maliciously interferes with the property of another, or when a person comes onto the property of another without permission to do so.)”
To file a petition for a Temporary Protective Order or Stalking Order, you must either hire an attorney, or file Pro Se (on your own) with the assistance of a Legal Advocate with Haven House. The Legal Advocates can discuss the particulars of your situation to help you determine if you meet the above criteria, inform you of how the judicial system works, and create a safety plan with you. Your Legal Advocate will submit the petition to the judge who will determine if there is sufficient violence, and if so, will sign an Ex Parte Order (without your abuser’s knowledge) which is valid for 30 days until a court hearing. At the hearing, you and your abuser may both be present to demonstrate evidence to the judge why there should/should not be a full 12 month TPO granted.
It is important to remember that a TPO is not in effect until a deputy serves your abuser with a copy of the Ex Parte Order, and you should safety plan accordingly.
If you have any questions or concerns about you situation, please call Haven House at 770-954-1008, or the crisis line at 770-954-9229.