Frequently Asked Questions - Family Violence

1. What is Family Violence under Georgia Law?

Under Georgia Law, "family violence" is the occurrence of any felony, battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household, and does not include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.

2. Who should I go to in order to obtain relief under the Family Violence Act?

The superior court of the county where the defendant lives has authority over all lawsuits, petitions, and proceedings under the Family Violence Act, which includes Temporary Protective Orders, commonly referred to as Restraining Orders.

3. Who can file a petition for a Temporary Protective Order (i.e. Restraining Orders)?

Any person who is not a minor may seek relief under the Family Violence Act by filing, in the Superior Court Clerks Office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., a petition with the superior court alleging one or more acts of family violence. Any person who is not a minor may also seek relief on behalf of a minor by filing such a petition.

4. Where and when can I file for a Temporary Protective Order under the Family Violence Act?

The Magistrate Office will assist you in filing for a Temporary Protective Order though N.O.A.

5. What if I need relief after business hours?

If a crime is or has been committed, you may call the police in your particular location. You can remove yourself from the household and stay with a relative, friend, or neighbor until you can file the petition during regular business hours, or you may contact various social agencies for temporary lodging until you can file a petition during regular business hours.

6. What happens when I file a petition for a Temporary Protective Order?

Upon filing a verified petition in which the petitioner alleges with specific facts that probable cause exists to establish that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the court may order such temporary relief ex parte (i.e. with only the petitioner present) as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner or a minor of the household from violence. If the court issues an ex parte order, a copy of the order shall be immediately furnished to the petitioner.

7. What happens after I get my copy of the Temporary Protective Order?

Within ten days of the filing of the petition under this article or as soon as practical thereafter, but in no case later than 30 days after the filing of the petition, a hearing (where both petitioner and defendant may be present heard) will be held at which the petitioner must prove the allegations of the petition by a preponderance of the evidence as in other civil cases. In the event a hearing cannot be scheduled within the county where the case is pending within the 30 day period the same shall be scheduled and heard within any other county of that circuit. If a hearing is not held within 30 days, the petition shall stand dismissed unless the parties otherwise agree.

8. Where can I get the necessary forms for filing a petition for a Temporary Protective Order?

The necessary forms may be obtained from the Superior Court Clerks Office, or prepared by an attorney.

9. I have got the forms, who can help fill the forms out?

An attorney can fill out the forms for you. N.O.A (706) 864-1986 may explain to all victims not represented by counsel the procedures for filling out and filing all forms and pleadings necessary for the presentation of their petition to the court. The clerk of the court may provide forms for petitions and pleadings to victims of family violence.

10. How much does it cost to file a petition for relief under the Family Violence Act?

There is no cost to file a petition for relief under the Family Violence Act.

11. What relief will the Temporary Protective Order provide?

The Temporary Protective Order may:

Direct a party to refrain from such acts;
Grant to a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse from the residence or household;
Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse and his or her children;
Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent's eviction has not been ordered;
Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law;
Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;
Award costs and attorney's fees to either party; and
Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.

12. Who will have copies of the Temporary Protective Order?

The parties will be provided copies at the conclusion of the hearing, the Superior Court Clerk's Office will retain the original, and the Sheriff's Department will retain a copy of the Temporary Protective Order as long as it remains in effect.

13. How long will the Temporary Protective Order be in effect?

Temporary Protective Orders will remain in effect for no more than 6 months, except upon the motion of a petitioner and notice to the respondent and after a hearing, the court in its discretion may convert a temporary order granted under this Code section to a permanent order.

14. I have moved, who will enforce the Temporary Protective Order?

The Temporary Protective Order is applicable and effective throughout the State of Georgia. It is the duty of every superior court and of every sheriff, every deputy sheriff, and every state, county, or municipal law enforcement officer within this state to enforce and carry out the terms of any valid protective order issued by any court under the provisions of this Code section.

15. How the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Department helps you with Domestic Violence.

Once you have obtained a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) under the Family Violence Act, the Sheriff's Department has the responsibility of executing the order by serving a copy of the order upon the respondent (person who is alleged to have committed the act of family violence). The efforts to locate the respondent will begin during the shift on which the order is received, and the Sheriffs Department will continue to attempt to serve the order until they are successful, or the time period for the order expires. If you have additional information that can assist the Sheriffs Department in locating the respondent, please contact us as soon as possible at (706) 864-0414 or 911.

The deputies have the responsibility of notifying the respondent of the existence of the order, and will read the order aloud to the respondent. This assures us that the respondent not only receives the order, but also is aware of its contents.

IF DIRECTED BY THE ORDER, the Sheriffs Department will evict the respondent from the residence where you both are residing. Under the supervision of a deputy sheriff, the respondent is allowed to gather enough personal effects (i.e. clothing, toiletries, etc.) to sustain them until the hearing date which is set in your order. The date is normally within 10 days as prescribed by law.

When the respondent is served at a location other than the place from which he or she is to be evicted, then arrangements will be made for a mutually convenient time for the Sheriff's Department and the respondent to retrieve the needed personal belongings.

IF DIRECTED BY THE ORDER, the deputies may retrieve custody of children or certain belongings from the respondent and then turn them over to you, the petitioner.

Once the order is served upon the respondent, a copy of that order will remain on file in the Sheriffs Department as well as the Police Department. The existence of your order can be verified 24 hours a day during the time period that your order is in effect (normally 6 months).

If you are having the respondent evicted from the residence, if is important for you to verify with the Sheriff’s Department that the eviction has taken place BEFORE you return to the residence. This is for your safety. You may verify this information by contacting the Sheriffs Department at (706) 864-0414.

If the respondent has been evicted from the residence, and later returns before the expiration of the Temporary Protective Order, you should first contact the Lumpkin County Police Department by dialing 911. Inform the operator that you have a Temporary Protective Order, and that you need a police officer. There are more police officers than deputy sheriffs in Lumpkin County, and a police officer can usually respond to your call for assistance sooner. A deputy sheriff will also respond to your call if available and needed .