Under what circumstances can you get a restraining order against someone?

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Under what circumstances can you get a restraining order against someone?

I am just recently divorced. No children and it was uncontested. Since the divorce I have started to move on, new job, new residence, etc. I have had no contact with the ex or her family. However, recently my ex-mother and father-in-law have taken to calling my mother or writing her letters that are harassing in nature. Most of it is just to say how much I am hated, how I ruined their daughter’s life, etc. They are also attempting to locate me. I do not wish to be contacted by any of them and stated that when the divorce was filed. Can I file a restraining order?

Asked on August 8, 2011 Arkansas

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Depending on the state, there are different circumstances in which you can get a restraining order against someone.  Some states do not refer to it as a “restraining order,” but rather a “protection from abuse.”  In your state, it may be referred to as an “order of protection.”  However this remedy under the law is usually reserved for those that are being protected from domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence. 

 

However, even though your situation may not qualify under the need for an order of protection, there may be other legal remedies in which you can seek assistance with your local police department.  Depending on the extent and nature of the letters and phone calls, you may be able to report this behavior to your local authorities and have the offenders charged with some type of harassment crime.  The exact title of the crime and the penalties associated with the crime will vary depending upon the criminal statues in your state. 

 

You should keep a record of all communications received from your ex-mother-in-law and ex-father-in-law.  This would include all the letters that you receive and a phone bill that would show the incoming calls that could be traced back to them.  After collecting these materials, you should contact the local authorities and present your proof so that they can charge them with the appropriate harassment crime.  Even after the police arrest and prosecutors charge your former in-laws, continue to document any communications you receive from them, so that you can demonstrate violations of any orders that the state has put into action.  Your family does not need to tolerate this from your in-laws, and if you are serious about taking action, you may want to contact a criminal attorney in your area for more specific advice and/or contact your local authorities.


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