Legal Information: Indiana

Restraining Orders

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November 24, 2021

What is the legal definition of domestic violence (family violence) in Indiana?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a civil order for protection. Domestic violence, also known as family violence, is when a family or household member commits one or more of the following acts against you (except if the act is committed in self-defense):

  • attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing you physical harm;
  • placing you in fear of physical harm;
  • stalking you;
  • causing you to involuntarily engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress;
  • committing a sex offense against you;
  • abusing, torturing, mutilating, or killing an animal with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize you.1

In addition, for the purposes of getting a civil order for protection, the following people can get an order for protection against anyone, even if the person is not a family or household member:

1 IC § 34-6-2-34.5
2 IC § 34-6-2-5-2

What is the legal definition of stalking?

Stalking is a pattern of behavior. It includes two or more incidents of intentional and repeated harassment that reasonably cause you to feel frightened, intimidated or threatened.1 You can click on each link to read the definitions of these terms on our Selected Indiana Statutes page.

1 IC § 35-45-10-1

What is the legal definition of a "sex offense"?

A “sex offense” can be defined as any of the following:

  1. when someone forces you to have sexual intercourse1 or “deviate sexual conduct” (i.e., oral or anal sex; or penetration with an object):2
    • by force or an immediate threat of force;
    • when you are unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring; or
    • when you are so mentally disabled or deficient that you cannot consent to sexual intercourse (including if you are drugged without your knowledge);
  2. child molestation (of a child under 14);
  3. sexual misconduct with a minor (which involves sexual contact with a child between the ages of 14 and 16;
  4. child seduction (which involves sexual contact with a child between the ages of 16 and 18);
  5. vicarious sexual gratification;
  6. fondling in the presence of a minor;
  7. child solicitation;
  8. sexual battery; or
  9. communication with a child concerning sexual activity.

You can click on each link to read the definitions of these crimes on our Selected Indiana Statutes page.

1 IC § 35-42-4-1
2 IC §§ 35-42-4-2; 35-31.5-2-94

What types of order for protections are there? How long do they last?

An order for protection is a civil court order intended to provide protection from domestic/family violence, harassment, stalking, or a sex offense. There are two types of orders:

Ex parte orders for protection: An ex parte order can be issued as soon as you file your petition, without the abuser being present or notified beforehand, if you are the victim of domestic/family violence. However, the court cannot issue an ex parte order based only on harassment.1 Either party (you or the abuser) then has 30 days from the date the abuser is served with the ex parte order to request a hearing on the ex parte order for protection. The court will notify both parties by mail of the date and time of the hearing. In some cases, the judge will order a hearing to take place within 30 days from when the petition is filed even if neither party requests it.2 If no hearing is requested, the ex parte order for protection can last for two years after the date it was given unless another date is ordered by the court.3

Final orders for protection: A final order for protection is one that is issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have the right to attend a hearing and present evidence (i.e., testimony, witnesses, etc.). You must attend that hearing even if the abuser does not. You can still get a final order even if the abuser does not attend, as long as s/he was served with notice of the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your ex parte order may expire and you may have to start the process over again. If you are given a final order after a hearing, it will generally last for two years, unless otherwise stated.3 Orders may also be extended beyond the two years. See How do I change or extend the order?

Please refer to the Indiana Courts website to download the necessary forms and get more information about orders for protection. You may also find the court forms you need on our Indiana Download Court Forms page.

1 IC § 34-26-5-9(a), (b)
2 IC § 34-26-5-10(a), (b)
3 IC § 34-26-5-9(f)

In which county can I file an order for protection?

You can file for an order for protection in the county where you live or are staying temporarily, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse happened.1

However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

1 IC § 34-26-5-4(b)

What protections can I get in an order for protection?

A temporary ex parte order for protection, which is issued without notice to the abuser, can:

  1. prohibit the respondent from committing or threatening to commit acts of domestic violence against you and any specific family or household members listed on the order;
  2. prohibit the respondent from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting, or communicating with you (either directly or indirectly);
  3. remove and keep out (exclude) the respondent from your home, regardless of who owns the home where you are living;
  4. order the respondent to stay away from your home, school, workplace, and specific places where you usually go;
  5. order the respondent to stay away from specific places where any of your family or household members who are included in the order usually go;
  6. give you sole possession, care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or cared for by you, the respondent, a minor child of you or the respondent, or any other family or household member;
  7. prohibit the respondent from removing, transferring, injuring, concealing, harming, attacking, mistreating, threatening to harm, or otherwise getting rid of an animal described above (in number 6);
  8. give you possession and use of the home, an automobile, and other essential personal items, regardless of who owns them;
  9. order a law enforcement officer to:
    • accompany you to the home to make sure that you can safely get into the home and get possession of an automobile, animal, and other essential personal items; or
    • supervise your or the respondent’s removal of personal belongings and animals; or
  10. order anything else that is necessary to keep you and any family or household members on the order safe.1

A final order for protection can:

  • include everything in the list above and in addition:
    • make a parenting time arrangement, which can do either of the following to ensure the safety of you or your child:
        • require parenting time between the abuser and your child to be supervised by a third party; or
        • deny parenting time to the abuser;
      • prohibit the abuser from possessing firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons;
      • order the abuser to hand over (surrender) to law enforcement any firearms, ammunition, and deadly weapons in the abuser’s possession;
      • order the abuser to pay for expenses such as:
        • court costs related to the order for protection case;
        • your attorney’s fees;
        • rent/mortgage payments on your home;
        • child support and, if you are married, spousal maintenance;
        • costs and expenses related to the abuser’s use of a GPS tracking device (if applicable);
        • costs related to the domestic violence or harassment, such as:
          • medical expenses;
          • counseling;
          • shelter; and
          • the cost to repair or replace damaged property; and
      • order a wireless service provider to transfer to you the right to the continued use of (and financial responsibility for) any cell phone numbers that are used by you or by a minor child in your custody.2

    1 IC § 34-26-5-9(c)
    2 IC §§ 34-26-5-9(g); 34-26-5-21; see Petition for an order for protection and request for a hearing

    If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

    When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

    There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

    1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
    2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
    3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

    However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

    You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

    Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

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