If you're escaping an abusive marriage, you may want to protect yourself by filing a protective order against your spouse. This limits the amount and type of contact the abusive spouse can have with you. Of course, the devil is in the details: Make sure you understand what the order does and does not do.
They're meant to protect victims of domestic violence
You can't simply file for a protective order because you don't want to see your ex. There needs to be a strong reason, such as a history of domestic violence. The New Jersey State Police Department has a full list of the types of crimes that count as domestic violence, including:
- Sexual assault
They're not all the same
Each protective order includes details that are specific to the individual case. For example, it might restrict the abuser from coming to your home, going to your workplace or going to your school. If you and your ex both attend the same school, the order might then prevent them from registering for the same classes as you. Protective orders might also include restrictions about contacting others, or about the ways in which your ex can or cannot contact you. Those dealing with more severe domestic violence may even have orders preventing the ex from owning a firearm. In short, you need to be very specific about what you do and don't want.
They're not permanent
Your protective order will have an expiration date. In most cases, this is the date of your court trial. At this time, the judge will review the order and make a decision about extending it. Protective orders can become permanent, but many change over time as your life situation changes.
They may not disallow visitation of children
If there are children involved, the protective order does not automatically remove the visitation rights of the other parent. However, it will likely include restrictions. For instance, it might say that you must meet in a public place when transferring the children. It might also specify that there can be no overnight visits or that all visits must be supervised. This is decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation.
Protective orders are an excellent way to protect you from further abuse. A good lawyer will help you work out the details to create a situation that makes you feel comfortable and safe.