If you legitimately fear for your life for being at the mercy of any threat, abuse or harassment, you may take refuge in a restraining order. A restraining order, whether criminal or civil, is a type of court-issued protective order meant to keep you away from imminent danger.
Which court – family, district or superior – will have jurisdiction over your case depends on your relationship, or lack thereof, with the offender and other relevant factors of your dangerous situation.
A family court restraining order
If you have a pending Rhode Island divorce, you may file a restraining order in a family court. You may be eligible under the following circumstances:
- If you or your minor child are victims of domestic abuse, which includes physical or sexual assault and battery, or any pattern of emotionally or psychologically controlling and manipulative behavior, and the abuser is any of the following:
- current or former spouse
- parent or stepparent
- child or stepchild
- any current or former family member
- any relative by blood or marriage
- any person you have a child with
- any serious dating partner or someone you’ve been engaged to for the past year, whether you’re both minors or you’re both adults with a minor child
- If the abuser of your minor child is not related to them by blood or marriage
- If the abuser, no matter the relationship, sexually assaulted your minor child
After filing the paperwork, which is inclusive of a signed and sworn affidavit, you will receive a temporary restraining order (TRO). Upon the judge’s signature, an authorized officer will serve the offender with the TRO with validity lasting up to 21 days. You may request an extended period by attending a court hearing. Also, an emergency TRO is available for abuses occurring during unexpected times, like ungodly hours in the evening or the holidays.
An abusive entity, aside from a divorce’s emotional complexities, can break even the strongest spirits. You’re not alone in this terrifying phase. You have a choice to speak up and end the abusive cycle with the help of your legal counsel.