Can I file a restraining order for threatening text messages?

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Can I file a restraining order for threatening text messages?

My girlfriend’s ex-husband is constantly yelling at her when they exchange their two kids. The kids are starting to have nightmares and are always asking why their dad is yelling at their mom. He has threatened to hurt me through text message. I would like to know what kind of action we can take to stop all the yelling and harassment, especially because he is always doing it when the kids are present. Would a restraining order do any good?

Asked on June 14, 2012 under Criminal Law, Indiana

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You and your girlfriend actually have a couple of different options.  Depending on the extent of the text messages, you could file charges for either intimidation or harrassement.  Both are misdemeanor level offenses, but either could be the basis of seeking a restraining order as part of his bond conditions or probation conditions to prevent him from engaging in this type of behavior.  Second option is to have your girlfriend go the civil route with this guy.  I'm assuming that there are child custody orders in place since she continues to take the children to him during visitation.  If this is affecting the children, she would have a basis for filing for a restraining order through the original custody case to either restrict his visitation or get language that prohibited him from "using and threatening or harrassing language" in front of the children.  If he violates the order, then she can go back and ask for sanctions like contempt or more restrictive visitation.  With regard to the part of your question about will it do any good... the answer is that either option will probably make him incredibly mad at first.  He may not change his behavior right off.  But the restraining order is a necessary first step so that you can request more extensive sanctions later.  You won't ever get to the remedies with teeth until you file the restraining order. 


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