In Georgia, there are two types of Family Violence Protection Orders:
- Temporary Ex Parte Orders
- Family Violence Protection Orders
A Temporary Ex Parte Order is designed to protect you until the court hearing you must have for a Family Violence Protection Order. You can receive a temporary order without a court hearing, and without your abuser’s knowledge. ("Ex parte" means without your abuser present).
A judge will grant the temporary order only if she or he believes that you are in immediate danger. Temporary orders last up to 30 days, or until your court hearing if it is being heard in another county in the same circuit. They can be extended beyond 30 days by agreement with both parties. This is called a consent order.
A Family Violence Protection Order can be issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. Family Violence Protection Orders last up to one year, but can be extended for up to three years, or permanently.
In general, if a family or household member hurts you or tries to hurt you (with or without using a weapon) or gives you reason to believe that they are going to hurt you in the near future, that person has committed an act of family violence. For the purposes of getting a protective order, you must have a specific relationship with your abuser.
This type of behavior is illegal, and there are laws to protect you.
"Family violence" includes:
- Hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping
- Criminal damage to property
- Restraint against your will
- Criminal trespass
- Unwanted touching, forcing you to take part in sexual acts against your will
- Threats of violence
- Other felonies
Family violence does not include "reasonable discipline" by a parent to a child in corporal punishment, restraint or detention.
The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law. Superior courts and State courts usually administrate these two areas of the law in different court sessions.
Civil law covers disputes between two people. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to punish that person for committing a crime. The protective orders discussed on this page are handled in civil court.
The criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. A criminal complaint involves charging your abuser with a crime. If criminal charges are filed, the case will be in the hands of the prosecutor.
You may want to pursue both civil and criminal action against your abuser.