What should I do when I leave the courthouse?
Here are some steps that you may want to take as you are preparing to leave the courthouse and afterwards. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.
- Review the restraining order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
- Make several copies of the protection order as soon as possible. Leave a copy of the order at your workplace, at your home, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and if children are included, at the children’s school or daycare. Basically, make sure that you have a copy of the order available at all times. Once the defendant has been served, put a copy of the return of service with all copies of the order.
- 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 restraining order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
- Take steps to safety plan, including changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.
A restraining order is not a guarantee of your safety. Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Many abusers obey protection orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. For suggestions on staying safe, visit our Staying Safe page. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. To find an advocate in your area please visit our NJ Advocates and Shelters page. Remember that if the abuser violates the order in any way, you can report the violation to your local law enforcement, and s/he may be arrested.