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

Get a Temporary Relief from Abuse Order

Once you give the court your paperwork, a judge will review it to decide if you can get a “temporary order.” This is a court order to protect you until you attend a “final hearing.”

If you qualify, usually the court can give you a temporary order on the same day or night you ask for it.

If the judge decides you can get a temporary Relief from Abuse order, the court will send you a copy of the order and a notice with a hearing date and time. Usually, the hearing is within about two weeks. The court will also have local police find the defendant and personally give (“serve”) the defendant a copy of the order, the hearing notice, and the Complaint and Affidavit you gave the court. The temporary order lasts until the date and time of the final hearing. The police will also take the defendant’s firearms (guns) at this time, if the temporary order tells them to.

Keep a copy of the order with you so that you can prove you have a temporary order against the defendant. Consider giving copies to others such as your workplace, children’s school or childcare providers.

If the defendant doesn’t follow one or more terms of the temporary order, call your local police. Tell them you need help and you have a temporary order. The defendant may be charged with a crime if the order is not followed.

If the judge denies your temporary order

If the judge decides not to give you a temporary order, you can still move ahead and ask for a final RFA order.

If the judge denies the temporary order, they should explain the decision in writing. Contact an advocate or contact us at Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid to get help understanding why it was denied. You may be able to correct the problem, refile and get a temporary order.

You have a choice: drop the RFA case or continue with the case.

FORMS

If you decide to drop the RFA case, fill out the Intent to Pursue or Withdraw Complaint form. Say you want to withdraw (drop) the case. Turn it into the court. Or do nothing. Either way, the case may be closed. The court will not contact you again about it and will not send paperwork to the defendant.

If you decide to continue with the RFA case, fill out the Intent to Pursue or Withdraw Complaint form. Turn it in to the court. The court will schedule a hearing. Local police will serve the defendant with copies of the hearing notice, your Complaint and Affidavit, and the court order denying the temporary order. Note that you will not have a temporary order protecting you while you wait for the final hearing. This is another good time to talk to advocates about safety planning.

Updated: May 25, 2021