Step 1: Fill out the petition.
To get a copy of the forms for a protective order, go to your local district court or superior court,1 or your local domestic violence or sexual assault organization may assist you in filling them out. You also have the option of downloading the forms and instructions from the Alaska Courts website or using their “Petition Wizard,” which asks you a series of questions and fills out the forms for you.
On the petition (and in court), you are called the “petitioner”. The person you are getting a protective order against is called the “respondent.” The Alaska courts website provides detailed instructions for filing, which are summarized in this following “steps.” It may be helpful to read through both before starting to fill out the paperwork. To find the courthouse near you, go to AK Courthouse Locations.
You may request either an ex parte 20-day order for immediate protection or a hearing for a final one-year order, or both. When you finish filling out the petition, you need to return it to the court clerk at your local courthouse. Do not sign the petition until you are in front of the court clerk. Your signature must be notarized because you are making your written statements under oath. The court clerk will notarize your petition free of charge.2
Note: When you fill out the section entitled “Information About Petitioner,” you need to provide an address where the court can send mail to you. Do not give the actual address where you are staying if you think it will be dangerous for the abuser to know where you are. Instead, if possible, give the address of a friend or relative who can make sure you get any mail the court sends.2
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(a)
2 See the AK Court System Instructions “How to Get a Domestic Violence Protective Order” (pg. 6)
Step 2: A judge will review your petition and may issue an ex parte order.
The court clerk will give your petition to a judge. The judge may want to ask you questions as s/he looks over your petition. The judge will then decide whether to give you an ex parte 20-day order for immediate protection. To get this order, the judge must believe (from reading your petition) that a crime involving domestic violence has occurred and that an immediate protective order is necessary to protect you from domestic violence.1 All of this will happen while the abuser is not present.
Whether or not you get an ex parte 20-day order, the judge will give you a date for a full court hearing, which will probably take place within 10-20 days. The judge or court clerk will give you a notice with the date and time of the hearing written on it.
Note: Even though the petition asks you about what efforts you made (if any) to notify the abuser that you were filing the petition, you do not have to notify the abuser in advance – and you should not do so if it would put you in any danger.
1 Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a)
Step 3: Service of process
The petition, your temporary ex parte order, and the notice of the hearing needs to be served on the abuser. Unless the abuser is served in court, the court staff will ask law enforcement to serve the papers on the abuser and they are required to do so by law.1 Do not serve the papers yourself.
A fee cannot be charged for service (unless there are other papers besides the protective order being served on the respondent).2
1 Alaska Statute §18.66.160(a)
2 Alaska Statute §18.66.160(c)
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Step 4: Hearing for a long-term domestic violence protective order
Since your ex parte order only lasts for 20 days, you must attend the full court hearing if you want continued protection. If the abuser doesn’t come to the hearing, the judge may decide to give you the protective order or reschedule the hearing. If the hearing is rescheduled, be sure to ask to have your ex parte 20-day order extended until the hearing date. At the hearing, you will have to prove that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence as defined by the law.1
The judge will examine all of the evidence that is presented including your testimony, relevant documents and any witnesses that either you or the abuser bring to testify. For information about representing yourself in a protective order hearing, you can check out the Alaska State Courts website. You can also find general information about preparing for court on our Preparing Your Case page.
If the judge finds that the abuser has committed a crime involving domestic violence against you, s/he will grant you a final (also called “long-term”) protective order that lasts for 1 year. It is generally best to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing, especially if you think the abuser has one. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer and you don’t have one, you may be able to ask the judge for a continuance (to postpone the case) so that you can try to get a lawyer as well. You can find contact information for lawyers in your area on our AK Finding a Lawyer page.