First 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 showing why you need a Relief from Abuse Order.
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.” Your abuser is the “defendant.”
If you are filing a Relief from Abuse Order only on behalf of a child, use this Complaint form and this Affidavit form.
If you prefer, you can get a copy of the forms and instructions at your county courthouse. Every county in Vermont has a courthouse with a Family Division of Superior Court. For a list of these courthouses and their addresses, follow this link.
If you are asking for a Relief from Abuse Order after regular court hours, call the court’s answering service at 1-800-540-9990 or law enforcement. The court’s answering service will contact court staff, and they will contact you for more details about your situation.
Filling Out the Complaint
Check off all of the boxes on the Complaint form that apply to your situation. By checking off the boxes in the sections entitled “Request for Emergency Relief” and “Request for Final Order,” let the court know what you want.
Do you need help understanding a question? You can ask the Family Division Court Clerk to explain what it means. Or you can get help from your local domestic violence group.
Filling Out & Signing the Affidavit
Read our web page about the Relief from Abuse Affidavit. We explain what kinds of information to put in your Affidavit.
Don’t sign your Affidavit until you are in front of a notary public. The page on Relief from Abuse Affidavit explains where you can find a notary public.
What Do I Do Next?
If you are worried about revealing your address, you can also fill out a Confidential Notification. On that form you can check “No” to not allow the release of your address to anyone outside the court. For more information on keeping your home address confidential, explore the Attorney General’s Safe at Home program.
If you are finished with your Complaint and Affidavit, give them to the court clerk of the Family Division of Superior Court. This is called “filing” your Complaint.
Every county in Vermont has a courthouse with a Family Division. For a list of these courthouses and their addresses, follow this link.
Now that you’ve filed your Complaint and Affidavit, the court will call you the “plaintiff.” Your abuser is called the “defendant.”
The judge will read your Complaint and Affidavit. If the judge decides there is enough evidence in your Affidavit, the court clerk will give you a Temporary Relief from Abuse Order.
Your Temporary Relief from Abuse Order only goes into effect after your abuser is served (gets a copy of it) from law enforcement. The clerk will have the Temporary Relief from Abuse Order served on your abuser. There is no cost to have your abuser served with the order.
Always keep a copy with you. You can give a copy to your children’s school, your employer or anyone you like, if you feel it will make you or your children safer.
The Temporary Relief from Abuse Order is in effect until you have your final hearing. The order will tell you the date for a final hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, there will be no order.