What types of relief from abuse orders are available? How long do they last?
There are temporary relief from abuse orders and permanent relief from abuse orders.
In general, an ex parte temporary relief from abuse order offers you protection from the time you file your complaint until the court hearing for the permanent relief from abuse order, which usually takes place within 14 days. An ex parte order means it is given without the knowledge of the abuser or his/her presence in the courtroom. The law also allows for a petitioner to apply for an ex parte order over the telephone, including when the courts are closed on nights or weekends. When the courts are closed, you can ask for the help of law enforcement or you can call the after-hours temporary relief from abuse order telephone number: 800-540-9990. If the judge approves an ex parte order when the courts are closed, it will be delivered to the appropriate law enforcement agency.2
Temporary relief from abuse orders can be granted if the judge believes that defendant has abused you and/or your children and that there is a danger of further abuse. If the abuser fails to appear at the final hearing, the temporary order will remain in effect until the final order is served on the abuser.1 Note: If the judge denies your request for an ex parte temporary order, you are supposed to be notified of the judge’s reasons for the denial in writing. You will then have seven days to request that the court still hold a hearing within 14 days for you to request a permanent order. The abuser will be notified and have a chance to appear in court to object to the order.3
A permanent relief from abuse order is designed to offer you longer-lasting and more comprehensive protection than a temporary relief from abuse order. It can last for a “fixed period” of time. A permanent relief from abuse order can be issued only after the abuser receives notice of the hearing, and you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story at the final hearing. You can present evidence and witnesses to prove you were abused and it may be best to be represented by a lawyer, especially if the abuser has one. If you don’t appear at the final hearing, your petition will usually be dismissed – the only exception is if the judge believes there is “good cause” to postpone the final hearing and continue the temporary order until that date.4
Go to our VT Finding a Lawyer page for free and paid legal referrals. Most relief from abuse orders expire after one year, but you may be able to have it extended.5 Please see our Can a relief from abuse order be modified (changed) or extended? page for more information.
If you don’t qualify for a relief from abuse order, you can get more information about stalking and sexual assault prevention orders on our page called I was not granted a relief from abuse order. Is there another order I can get?
1 VT ST T. 15 § 1104(a), (b)
2 VT ST T. 15 § 1106(b)
3 V.R.F.P. Rule 9(e)
4 VT ST T. 15 § 1105(b)(2)
5 VT ST T. 15 § 1103(e)