Step 1: Go to court and request the forms for a protective order.
You can file a petition for a protective order in a municipal, justice, county, chancery, or state military court. However, a petition that includes a request for emergency relief (i.e., an immediate ex parte temporary order) pending a hearing shall not be initiated in the chancery court – go to one of the other types of courts instead.1
You can find a court near you by going to our MS Courthouse Locations page. Find the civil court clerk and request a petition for a permanent protective order, and also tell the clerk if you want a temporary order for immediate protection. Usually you apply for these at the same time. You can find links to petitions online by going to our MS Download Court Forms page.
1 MS Code § 93-21-7(2)
Step 2: Fill out the necessary forms.
The clerk will provide you with the forms that you need to file. On the protective order form, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “defendant.”
Carefully fill out the forms. Write briefly about the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.
If you need assistance filling out the forms, ask the clerk for help. Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you. Also, a domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help filling out the forms. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MS Advocates and Shelters page.
Note: Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk, as the form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.
Step 3: A judge will review your application.
After you finish filling out the forms, bring them to the court clerk. The clerk will forward them to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as he or she reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the temporary order, and a date for a permanent protective order hearing. You will be given papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a permanent order.
If the judge grants you a temporary ex parte protective order, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order. Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
Step 4: Service of process
The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any orders that a judge has granted you. The temporary order is not enforceable until it has been served on the abuser.
Service policies vary from county to county, but usually the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff, who will then serve the abuser. However, in some areas you may have to bring the papers to the sheriff or police yourself.
Ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser. Do not attempt to serve the papers on the abuser yourself.
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 5: The hearing
A judge will set a hearing date within ten court business days of filing your temporary order.
You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a protective order, or the judge may order a new hearing date.
Continuance. You have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a continuance to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. If the court does issue a continuance, the court should also reissue or extend your temporary order since your original one will probably expire before the rescheduled hearing.1
If you are going to be representing yourself, you can go to our Preparing For Court - By Yourself page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. For legal referrals, go to our MS Finding a Lawyer page.
1 MS Code § 93-21-9