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What You Should Know About Restraining Orders in Rhode Island

There are a number of reasons people opt to get a restraining order, but most often it’s if there was some type of domestic violence that occurred. Typically we think of domestic violence as being something that occurs between romantic partners, but it can also be the result of a situation between family members, or people that live together in any situation.

A restraining order can be necessary if you’re in a violent situation, yet it can feel overwhelming to know how to go about obtaining one, since it is a legal proceeding.

Rather than feeling intimidated or afraid of the process, it’s best to educate yourself on the legal process, and team up with an experienced family lawyer to help you most effectively navigate the situation.

The Courts

In Rhode Island, a restraining order can be filed in one of two courts: family court or district court.

Family court jurisdiction applies if the couple is in the midst of a divorce when the restraining order is being filed, when it’s against an ex-spouse, when it involves a family member, or in the event a juvenile or minor child is involved.

If the restraining order involves an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, or a situation with a roommate, the restraining order will typically be filed in district court.

What Qualifies for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

As mentioned, most often restraining orders stem from a domestic violence situation.

In Rhode Island, domestic violence can have many definitions, including:

  • Attempts to cause bodily or physical harm. Notice, this just refers to attempts, and it doesn’t have to mean the person used a weapon to cause harm.
  • If you’re in fear of being put in harm’s way because of a person’s actions, this can qualify as domestic violence. For example, if your former spouse has made threats against you, this is viewed as violent behavior in many instances.
  • If you’ve been forced into a sexual situation against your will, this is considered domestic violence, even if you are married at the time.
  • Other types of domestic violence can refer to stalking, general harassment, or cyberstalking.

The Advantages of a Restraining Order

In domestic violence situations, obtaining a restraining order can become a matter of life and death. Many people wait to take action, and the consequences can be severe.

If you’re in the midst of a divorce or a similar situation and you feel a restraining order is necessary, it can not only force the other person to stop contacting, harassing or threatening you, but can also:

  • Force the party seen as the abuser to vacate the home you share, immediately.
  • Help you obtain temporary custody of your children.
  • Ensure the other person is required to pay temporary child support.
  • There may be limitations to possession of a firearm by the person against whom you’ve filed a restraining order.

Each restraining order is different, and these are just a few of the possible outcomes that may occur, depending on the opinion of the judge.

Regardless, if you’re in a situation you feel is dangerous in any way, the best course of action is first to consult a family lawyer, and then begin going over your options.

Many people feel too afraid to file for a restraining order in a domestic violence situation, but a family lawyer can help you get the best outcome to assist in providing you and your children with safety in a difficult situation.