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Legal Information: Indiana

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of November 14, 2023

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:

  • 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;
  3. sexual misconduct with a minor;
  4. child seduction;
  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 orders 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 then has the right to request a hearing on the ex parte order for protection at any time. Even if neither party requests a hearing, the judge is supposed to set a hearing date within 30 days if in your petition, you request or the judge includes:

  • the removal and exclusion of the respondent from your home;
  • exclusive possession, care, custody, or control to you of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or cared for by either party, a minor child of either party, or any other family or household member;
  • an order that the respondent cannot remove, transfer, injure, hide, harm, attack, mistreat, threaten to harm, or otherwise get rid of the animal described above;
  • possession and use of the residence, an automobile, and other essential personal effects to you; 
  • other relief necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of you or a family or household member; 
  • arrangements for parenting time that includes supervision by a third party or the denial of parenting time;
  • an order for the respondent to:
    • pay attorney’s fees or court fees related to bringing the court case;
    • pay rent or make payment on a mortgage on a your home;
    • pay for the support of you or your child;
    • reimburse you or someone else for expenses related to the domestic or family violence or harassment; or
    • pay the costs and expenses in connection with the use of a GPS tracking device; or
  • an order that the respondent cannot have or use a firearm, ammunition, or a deadly weapon, and that s/he must surrender them to law enforcement.2

The court will notify both parties by mail of the date and time of the hearing if one is requested.3 

Final orders for protection: If either party requests a court hearing, or if the judge orders it without a request, both parties have the right to attend the hearing and present evidence, 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.

Regardless of whether there is a hearing for a final order, or whether the ex parte order is not challenged by the respondent, the order of protection will generally last for two years, unless otherwise stated. However, an order will have no end date (effective indefinitely) if the respondent is a “sex or violent offender” and s/he is required to register as a lifetime sex or violent offender due to a crime committed against you.4

A two-year order may also be extended beyond the two years. See How do I change or extend the order?

You can find the court forms you need to file for an order on our Indiana Download Court Forms page.

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

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 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. prohibit the respondent from using a tracking device to determine the location of:
    • you or property that you own or use; and
    • your family or household member or property that they own or use;
  7. 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;
  8. prohibit the respondent from removing, transferring, injuring, concealing, harming, attacking, mistreating, threatening to harm, or otherwise getting rid of such animal;
  9. give you possession and use of the home, an automobile, and other essential personal items, regardless of who owns them;
  10. 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
  11. 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(h); 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.