Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession. There are a few places where you can find this information:
- first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Georgia have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
- second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
You should review the family violence protective order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, you might want to ask the clerk how to get it corrected. Here are some additional things that you may want to do after leaving the courthouse:
- Keep a copy of the family violence protective order with you at all times.
- Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
- Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
- Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
- You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
- Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse. If you are concerned that the abuser may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving a family violence protective order. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. View our Staying Safe page for some suggestions. Advocates at local domestic violence resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. For a list of domestic violence centers, see our GA Advocates and Shelters page.
What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
If the abuser violates the order, s/he can be arrested. You can call law enforcement and report that you have a family violence protective order and that the abuser has violated the order.
For a non-violent violation of certain terms of a family violence protective order, the abuser can be convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violating a family violence order.1 It can also be possible to be convicted of the felony offense of aggravated stalking if the abuser follows you, places you under surveillance, or contacts you without your consent for the purpose of harassing and intimidating you.2
If the abuser violates the order by not paying support for yourself or your minor children, generally this is not handled by the police/criminal justice system. Instead, you can file an action for contempt or garnishment with the court. An action for contempt is a legal procedure to get the court to make the abuser obey the order and/or to punish him/her. An action for garnishment asks the court to take money for support directly out of his/her paycheck. For legal advice on your particular situation, you may find a lawyer on our GA Finding a Lawyer page.
For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.
1 O.C.G.A. § 16-5-95(b),(c)
2 O.C.G.A. § 16-5-91
After I get an order, what steps will law enforcement take to help ensure my safety?
After you get a protective order, you have the option to ask your local police or sheriff to do periodic “security checks” to try to keep you safe. Security checks can include officers driving by to observe the outside of your home or remaining nearby in the area around your home. Security checks will continue while the order is in effect until:
- you ask law enforcement to discontinue security checks; or
- law enforcement determines that you no longer require security checks.1
1 Ga. Code § 19-13-4.1
How do I extend my protective order?
If you would like to extend your protective order, you must file a motion with the court and your petition will be served upon the abuser. The court will hold a hearing where you and the abuser both have the right to be present. The judge has the option of extending the order for up to three years or making the order permanent.1
1 O.C.G.A § 19-13-4(c)
Can I get my family violence protective order enforced if I move?
If you move within Georgia, it is often a good idea to talk with an advocate at a domestic violence organization in your new community so the advocate can help you with safety planning. Your order is enforceable anywhere in Georgia. Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protective order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. territories and tribal lands. If you are moving to a new state, please visit our Moving to Another State with a Family Violence Protective Order page for more information.