how do i get a restraining order?

Before you ask how to get a restraining order, you should first ask “Can I get a restraining order?” I was recently asked by a mother if she could get a restraining order from her ex-husband’s new wife that was being confrontational during the children’s baseball games. Dealing with an adult behaving in any disruptive way at a child’s extracurricular activity can be upsetting, but this wouldn’t qualify for a restraining order and here is why:

A Restraining Order is known as a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) in Civil Courts. Two necessary parts of requesting a PFA is that 1) YOU are the petitioner making the request and 2) you make the request in civil court. Why civil court and not criminal? The quick explanation of the difference between a civil court and a criminal court is that YOU are the petitioner asking for protection in the civil court and the State is the petitioner in the criminal court.

Who can file for a PFA in Civil Court? Here is the 2-prong Answer:

  1. You have been the victim of domestic abuse OR you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim (a gut feeling of fear is not enough to prove immediate danger, most courts require evidence of an immediate threat of harm).


  1. You have one of the following relationships with the abuser:
  • You are related by marriage to the defendant, including a common law marriage;
  • You had a former marriage or common law marriage with the defendant;
  • You have a child in common;
  • You are currently in a dating relationship with the abuser or your dating relationship ended within the last 12 months;
  • You are a current or former household member of the abuser, which means you lived together while having a romantic or sexual relationship – or you can file against the relative of a current or former household member as long as that person also lived with you; or
  • You are the parent, step-parent, child, or step-child of the abuser and you live or have lived together.

In the case of the contentious step mother at the baseball park, the mother could not file since abuse had not occurred, nor was there evidence of serious threat of abuse. However, even if evidence was available, the mother would likely not be able to establish a qualifying relationship to the step-mother.

Civil Courts are strict on who and what is going to get an Order for protection. However, you should never hesitate to ask when it comes to your safety. Once you qualify as a person who can file for a PFA, there are many other aspects to know about a PFA.

If you are in the Lee County, Alabama and surrounding counties and would like to set up a free 30 minute consultation to learn more, call Katie Crow at (334) 737-3733.

CategoryFamily Law
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