Writing Your Petition

When you ask for an Order of Protection, you have to fill out a Family Offense petition, describing how your abuser harmed you. Your lawyer, if you have one, can prepare the petition. A domestic violence advocate can also work with you to prepare the petition. In some places the Probation Department will help you with your petition and bring it before the judge. If you do not have an advocate or a lawyer and are not going through Probation, the clerk of the court can be very helpful in explaining how to fill out your petition and other forms you may have to complete. The clerk is the court's administrator. He or she is in charge of handling the application for an Order of Protection and scheduling your hearing in court.

In filling out the petition, you should give the facts simply and clearly. You don't need to explain what led to the abuse, but you should say exactly what the abuser did and when and where he did it.

Here's an example ...

    "On May 1, 1995, at our apartment, John hit me in the face with his fist at least three times. My lip was cut and I had to go to the emergency room to get six stitches. He said if I told anyone he would kill me."

You don't have to write a lot, but if you have been abused at other times, or It your children have been hurt, threatened, scared, or witnessed the abuse, write those facts down too. If you have ever called the police to report violence against you or to ask them to protect you, it is important to include that as well. Be as complete as possible, giving information on all past incidences. Only the information included in the Temporary Order of Protection will be considered for the Permanent Order of Protection.

Once you have completed the petition, you will have to make it official by signing it in front of a notary. Someone in the clerks office will be a notary. You will need to bring a picture ID to show the notary as proof of who you are.

If you request a Temporary Order of Protection, the judge is required to make a decision about your petition the same day. He or she may ask you questions about the events you describe in it. Make as strong a case as you can, but keep your answers brief and stick to the facts. The judge will then decide whether or not to issue a Temporary Order of Protection to you. If you receive one, the court will arrange to serve the abuser with the Order and a copy of your petition. When the abuser sees the petition, he will know exactly what you have said was done to you. A Temporary Order of Protection is in effect from the time the abuser is served with the papers until the time of the court hearing.

A Family Court Temporary Order of Protection is available through Criminal Court when Family Court is closed. Whether you request or receive a Temporary Order of Protection or not, a hearing will be scheduled within a few weeks. Both you and your partner must appear before the judge at that time. If you want to get a Permanent Order of Protection, you must appear at the hearing.

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