If one party in either a marriage or a domestic relationship is in “imminent fear of serious bodily harm,” she or he may seek a restraining order or “abuse prevention order.” The request must be supported by an affidavit. The initial order is commonly granted with a review 7-10 days later when the opposing party has an opportunity to oppose the extension of the order. Restraining Orders can be limited to simply “do not abuse,” but more often prohibit any contact whatsoever, even through a third party. The restraining order itself is civil in nature. However, if you violate a restraining order, that is a criminal offense, and can lead to incarceration.
The continued existence of restraining orders throughout a divorce, or thereafter, make communications and parenting very difficult. They are often modified to permit email correspondence and even telephone contact regarding limited issues, such as the children.
Verbal abuse and vexing or annoying behavior are generally not sufficient to obtain a lasting restraining order. There must be physical abuse or threats of violence. The fear of violence must be reasonable under the circumstances. Initial restraining orders may be vacated or modified after a hearing.