ROADMAP: Getting a Relief from Abuse (RFA) Order in Vermont

RFA Roadmap — Know Your Rights

Safety Note

Before you continue, think about whether your abuser has access to the computer or mobile device you are using to read this. Follow this link for computer and internet safety tips. And follow this link to see how to clear your browsing history. Go to Step 2 of this RFA Roadmap if you want to find an advocate who can help you now.

Video: Overview of how to get a Relief from Abuse (RFA) order in Vermont

Go to descriptive transcript. Links and phone numbers in this video — Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence 1-800-228-7395; Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid 1-800-889-2047; RFA Roadmap (this page); Vermont courts after-hours answering service 1-800-540-9990. How to clear your browsing history.

In Vermont, a Relief from Abuse order (also called an “RFA”) can be a powerful legal tool to protect you and/or your children from a person who hurt you or a person you are afraid of. On these web pages we will call this person the “abuser” or “defendant.”

Depending on your situation and what you ask for, and if the judge grants it, an RFA order can order this person to:

  • leave your home
  • stay away from you, your children, pets, home and workplace
  • not contact you by phone, online or through other people
  • not abuse or harass you
  • temporarily give you custody of your children
  • temporarily give you possession of your pets
  • temporarily pay you for living expenses or child support, and
  • turn over their firearms (guns).

To get an RFA, this person must be one of the following:

  • a family member:
  • a current or former sexual partner
  • someone you date or used to date
  • someone who lives with you or used to live with you.

Is the person abusing you not one of the above? See our information about getting an Order Against Stalking or Order Against Sexual Assault from the Civil Division of the Vermont Superior Court.

Sometimes people might call an RFA a restraining order. You can ask for an RFA at anytime — day or night.

Are you a young adult or child?

  • You can apply for a Relief from Abuse order against a dating partner at any age.
  • You must be 16 or older to apply for a Relief from Abuse order against someone you live with or lived with, or someone who you have or had a sexual relationship with.
  • You must be 16 or older to apply for an Order Against Stalking or an Order Against Sexual Assault.

Parents or guardians may apply for protection orders on behalf of minors (under age 18).

Are you an older Vermonter? Are you a Vermonter living with a disability?

You may qualify for a Vulnerable Adult protection order. See the Vermont Judiciary’s website or contact us at Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid for help. Adult Protective Services may also be able to help.

Follow the steps

This RFA Roadmap will show you how to ask the court for a Relief from Abuse order. Follow the steps, which include some short videos. In the next step we tell you where you can find help.

Updated: Oct 01, 2021