The law offers the protection of a temporary restraining order to victims of domestic violence whether or not the abuser has been arrested or prosecuted. The order is free, and the victim doesn’t need an attorney to get one although an attorney is recommended if the abuser contests the restraining order.
The person (victim) who requests a temporary restraining order is called the “petitioner”; the person (abuser) whom the order restrains is called the “respondent.”
A Restraining Order Can:Require the abuser to stop abusing, threatening, or interfering with the victim and with children in her custody
Forbid the abuser to enter the victim’s home, school, place of business, or other specified place
Order the abuser out of the home if the victim is sole or part owner of the home, or is on the rental agreement
Require the police to stand by while the person leaving the home removes personal belongings
Give the victim temporary legal custody of the children if the children are in her physical custody or, if they are not, grant her visitation rights
A temporary restraining order is available in every county in Oregon. Once issued, it is effective throughout the state for one year unless the petitioner wants the order ended earlier or wants it renewed.
Police are required to enforce a restraining order. A person who violates a restraining order can be arrested, tried for contempt of court or any crime committed, and if found guilty, can be fined or put in jail. Generally, fear of arrest makes most abusers respect the order. But, a temporary restraining order is no guarantee of safety for the victims.
A woman is eligible to get a restraining order if she meets the following criteria:
- She was the victim of abuse within the past six months
- or she was the victim of abuse more than six months ago, and the abuser has been in prison or jail
- or she was the victim of abuse more than six months ago, and the abuser has lived more than 100 miles from her in the past six months
- The abuse was bodily injury
- or attempted bodily injury
- or the threat of immediate serious bodily injury
- or sexual abuse
- or rape
- She is the abuser’s wife
- or the abuser’s in-law
- or relative
- or is in a sexually intimate relationship with the abuser
- or is the biological co-parent (with the abuser) of a minor child
- She is 18 years old
- or “emancipated” (a legal action) if younger than 18
- or younger than 18 and married to the abuser who is 18 or older
- or younger than 18 and sexually intimate with the abuser who is 18 or older
The court will hold a hearing on the day you file your papers or the next day that the court is open for business. If the judge decides you have met the legal standard for a restraining order, the judge will issue a restraining order at the time of the hearing.
The restraining order is effective, legally, as soon as the court grants it; however, it cannot be effective in a practical sense until the abuser knows it exists. A sheriff or another qualified person must serve the respondent with a copy of the order. After the respondent receives it, he has 30 days to ask for a hearing, which must be held within 21 days of that request.
The judge may change or cancel the restraining order based on information received at the hearing. Changes in custody or visitation rights may be requested at any time while the order is in effect.
If the victim and the abuser later divorce, and the provisions of the divorce decree are different from the provisions of the restraining order, the divorce decree will take precedence.
Please note: There are circumstances where it is important that you consider whether a restraining order is the best option. This is especially true when you are considering moving out of the area and child visitation issues are involved. We recommend you call your local women’s shelter program and talk to someone regarding your situation.