Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

What’s an Order of Protection, and Is It the Same Thing as a Restraining Order?

An Order of Protection is an Order that either directs the defendant to stay away from you entirely and/or directs them to refrain from certain behavior if they do come around you. These are different from “restraining orders” because they only apply to certain parties and have varying levels of severity.

Many people believe you can get an Order of Protection against anyone.  This is not true.  To get an Order of Protection, the Defendant must be:

  • someone you are related to by blood or marriage, OR
  • someone with whom you have lived, OR
  • someone with whom you have had a sexual relationship, OR
  • someone who you have dated, OR
  • someone who is stalking you, OR
  • someone who has sexually assaulted you.

You can’t get an Order of Protection just because you know someone, or live near them, or they are your boss (unless they have also done one of the things listed above).

There are three types of Orders of Protection. 

  1. The mildest type of Order is called a “social contact order of protection.”  It simply prohibits the defendant from doing any of the following seven things:
    • being violent with you
    • threatening to be violent with you
    • intentionally destroying your property or abusing your pets
    • holding you against your will
    • saying or doing things that reasonably place you in fear
    • stalking you
    • sexually assaulting you
  2. The second type of Order of Protection is stronger.  It is called a “no contact” order of protection
    • In addition to prohibiting the seven types of abuse described in a social contact order, a no contact order prohibits your partner or family member from coming around you at all (including coming within eyeshot of you, driving by your home or job, or any place where you are). You cannot be in the same place at the same time for any reason, including picking up and dropping off children.
  3. The third type of Order of Protection is the strongest type of Order, generally known as a “Chinese wall” order of protection.
    • In addition to prohibiting the seven types of abuse, and in addition to stopping them from coming around you, the Chinese wall prohibits them from having any communication with you at all.  That means no telephone calls, emails, letters, faxes, texts, or messages delivered by third persons. 

To get an Order of Protection of any kind, the plaintiff must show (a) that the defendant committed at least one of the seven acts above, and (b) that the plaintiff is afraid it might happen again in the future. 

As always, proving your case involves putting together evidence in the form that is acceptable to the court, and you will likely need a lawyer to do the job right.  Additionally, you will likely need a lawyer to help you work out details that you might not think of at the time.  For instance, your lawyer can help you in the Order of Protection process negotiate, or obtain an Order that helps you get the following additional benefits, at a fraction of the cost of getting the same thing (and in a lot quicker timeframe) than a normal divorce: 

  • possession of the marital home
  • custody and visitation exchange for your children on terms intended to protect your safety
  • child support and temporary alimony
  • counseling for the abuser, the children, and the family
  • classes for the abuser to attend to better learn to handle his anger
  • classes on co-parenting
  • possession and storage of weapons at a safe, third location

Depending on what your attorney negotiates, you can also “blend” the different types of Orders; for instance, you might allow some contact, but only through text or email.  You might allow contact only for the purpose of exchanging the children, and only at a public place. 

If you are dealing with an issue of domestic violence, chances are high that emotions are running very high. That may be the most important reason to have an experienced attorney, one who knows the proclivities of the judge you are in front of, as well ask knowing the law and being specifically familiar with the facts of your case, is especially important. 

At Held Law Firm, we have successfully litigated hundreds of Orders of Protection.  We understand that the process has lots of intricacies not necessarily obvious to litigants in the heat of the moment.  Whether you are trying to obtain an Order of Protection, or defending yourself from exaggerated or false accusations, we welcome the opportunity to listen to you, and to help.