I Want to Get a Relief from Abuse Order. What Do I Do?
This page explains the process to apply for a Court Order for Relief from Abuse. Do you want information about places to get help? Read more on our I'm Being Abused. What Can I Do? page.
Do you want to ask the Court to give you a Relief From Abuse Order? There are two parts to getting an Order. First you need to apply for a Temporary Order. We explain how to do this below. If you get the Temporary Order and you want to get a Final Order, you will need to go to a court hearing about the final Order. You may be able to get someone to go to court with you for the hearing. There is no charge to apply for a Relief from Abuse Order.
How Do I Ask for a Relief from Abuse Order?
How Do I Fill Out the Complaint?
What Do "Plaintiff" and "Defendant" Mean?
What Information Should I Put in My Affidavit?
Signing Your Affidavit
I'm Done With My Complaint and Affidavit. What Do I Do Next?
What if I Don't Get a Temporary Order?
What is the Final Hearing?
What Can I Do to Prepare for My Final Relief From Abuse Hearing?
You need to file a Complaint and Affidavit for Relief from Abuse. The Complaint is a court form that says you want a Relief from Abuse Order. The "affidavit" is your sworn, written statement about what your abuser did and why you need a Relief from Abuse Order.
Here is the Complaint. Fill out all of the boxes. Do you need help understanding a question? You can ask the Family Court Clerk to explain what the question means.
In a legal case, the person who files the law suit is called the "plaintiff." The person who is being sued is called the "defendant." Since you are filling out the complaint, you are the "plaintiff."
Go to our Filling Out Your Affidavit for Relief from Abuse page. We explain what kinds of information to put in your affidavit. Are you done writing your affidavit? You are ready to fill out your Complaint and file your Complaint and Affidavit at Family Court.
You must sign your affidavit in front of a notary public. A notary public must sign because your affidavit is your sworn statement of the truth of what happened as best as you know. The Family Court clerks are notary publics. Are you done writing your affidavit? Bring your affidavit to the Family Court. Ask the Court Clerk at Family Court to "notarize" your signature. This means the Court Clerk will watch you sign your affidavit. The clerk may also ask you if your affidavit is true. Don't sign your affidavit until you are in front of a notary public.
Give your Complaint and Affidavit to the Family Court Clerk. This is called "filing" your complaint. Now the Family Court judge will read your Complaint and Affidavit. The judge will decide if you can get a Temporary Relief From Abuse Order. If the judge decides that there is enough evidence in your affidavit, the court clerk will give you a Temporary Relief From Abuse Order. Now that you've filed your complaint and affidavit, the court will call you the "plaintiff." Your abuser is called the "defendant."
Your Temporary Relief From Abuse Order only goes into effect after your abuser is served with it. The clerk will tell you how to serve the Temporary Relief From Abuse Order on your abuser. You won’t give the Order to your abuser yourself. Usually, you need to take a copy of the Relief from Abuse Order to your local police station. There is no cost to have your abuser served with the Relief From Abuse Order. The Temporary Relief From Abuse Order is only in effect until you have your Final Hearing about your Relief from Abuse Order.
Your Temporary Relief From Abuse Order will tell you the court date for a Final Hearing. If you can't find your court date on your temporary order, ask the clerk at the court for help.
You can talk to your local domestic violence org. You can find your local domestic violence group on the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website. The domestic violence group can help you make a safety plan. They may also be able to help you in other ways. To find help, go to our I'm Being Abused. What Can I Do? page. Or go to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website.
The Final Hearing is your time to ask the Court for a Final Relief From Abuse Order. Do you want your Temporary Relief from Abuse Order to become a Final Relief From Abuse Order? You will need to go to the hearing and talk to the judge. You will need to tell the judge why you want a Relief From Abuse Order. You also need to tell the judge how long you want the Relief From Abuse Order to last. You can bring witnesses who saw what your abuser did or who saw or talked to you right after the abuse. You can also bring photographs of injuries or property damage. You can also bring medical records.
Contact Your Local Domestic Violence Group
You can find your local domestic violence group on the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website. The domestic violence group in your area can probably send an advocate to sit with you in court. They may be able to help you make copies of paperwork that you can bring to Court. They may also have resources for you such as help with temporary housing and transportation. They may also be able to help you take pictures of injuries, bruises, and damaged property.
Get Medical Care as Soon as Possible
Get medical care as soon as possible for any injury. Bring copies of your medical records to the court for your final hearing. Before giving the records to the Court, make sure that your social security number is completely crossed out.
Take Photographs of Injuries and Property Damage
Take photographs of any visible injuries. You can bring these copies to court for your final hearing. The police and most doctors will take pictures for you. It may be hard to get pictures from the police, so be sure to take your own pictures as well. Your local domestic violence group may be able to help you take pictures. Take photographs of damaged property, and bring copies to court.
Find Out if Your Abuser Has an Attorney for the Final Hearing.
You can do this by calling the court and asking if your abuser is being represented. If your abuser have a lawyer? Call Vermont Legal Aid at (800) 889-2047 to see if you qualify for free legal help.
Was Your Abuse Charged with a Crime? Call the "Victim's Advocate" in the State's Attorney's Office.
The Victim's Advocate can help you get paperwork about the charges against your abuser. They can also help you get paperwork about the "conditions of release" that your abuser has to follow. Bring copies of this paperwork to court.
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