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Family Violence: Protective Orders

What is a protective order?
A protective order is a court order issued to protect victims of family violence.

What is family violence?
Family violence is an action or the treat of an action by a member of a "family" or a "household" against another member of the "family" or "household" that is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault, or reasonable fear of such action.

What is a "family"?
A "family" is anyone related by blood or marriage, people who used to be married to one another, people who are the parents of the same child, foster children and their foster parents, even if not living together.

What is a "household"?
A "household" is people living together even if they are not related, and this can include people who used to live in the same household.

Who can file a protective order effective?
Any adult in a household can file for themselves or any other member of the household. If it is a child who needs protection, any adult can file for the child.

The Attorney General, the District Attorney or the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services may also apply for any member of any household.

How long is a protective order effective?
A protective order is effective for not more than one year.

What agencies are available to assist with family violence complaints?

  • The District Attorney's Office
  • Department of Protective and Regulatory Services; or
  • Any law enforcement agency.

How are law enforcement agencies notified of "protective orders"?
The clerk of the court sends a copy of the order to the Chief of Police of the city where the member of the family or household protected by the order resides, if the person resides in a city, or to the appropriate constable and the sheriff of the county where the person resides, if the person does not reside in a city; and the Department of Public Safety.

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