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Legal How-To: Responding to a Temporary Restraining Order

If you are involved in a domestic dispute, you may find yourself served with a temporary restraining order.

A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a court order directing an individual to do or not do specific acts for a specific time period, generally until a court hearing regarding issuing a permanent order. TROs are typically used to prohibit someone from making contact or coming near a specific person, although they can also include a range of other directives, such as continuing to pay certain bills or to refrain from possessing a firearm.

What should you do if you are served with a TRO? Here are five steps you’ll want to consider:

  1. Read the order carefully. Although you may be upset, be sure to read the TRO carefully and follow the orders listed. Failing to abide by the terms of the order may put in you in contempt of court, resulting in fines, jail time, or both.
  2. File a response. If you choose to contest the restraining order, you can tell your side of the story by responding to the TRO. Most states provide a form or instructions on how to file a response, but you may also want to consider enlisting the help of an attorney.
  3. Consider filing your own restraining order. If you are feeling threatened by the person who filed the TRO against you, you can request your own TRO against that person by going to court. However, you will need to provide evidence that the person poses a credible threat.
  4. Gather evidence for court and make arrangements with witnesses. You should also begin collecting evidence for your court hearing, which will provide you the opportunity to dispute the restraining order before a judge. The date for this hearing will be included with the order. You’ll want to bring with you anything that supports your side of the story, such as witnesses who can testify about what really happened and documents that can verify your version of the facts.
  5. Attend the court hearing on the TRO. Even if you haven’t filed a response, collected evidence, or hired an attorney, be sure to make it to your court date. If you fail to appear, the judge is likely to rule in the other person’s favor, issuing orders that could greatly affect your rights.

Need More Help?

Getting served with a TRO can be frustrating, but you don’t have to fight it alone. If you need help, an experienced domestic violence lawyer is just a click or phone call away. Many offer free or low-cost consultations.

Are you facing a legal issue you’d like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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