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Legal Information: Rhode Island

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
November 30, 2023

Step 2: Carefully fill out the forms.

On the complaint, you will be the plaintiff or petitioner and the abuser will be the defendant or the respondent, depending on whether you are in district court or family court.

In the box provided for explaining why you want the restraining order, write about the most recent incidents of violence, using specific language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. You may also have to provide an accurate physical description of the abuser and an address where s/he can be found so the order can be served. Clerks can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write. Do not sign the complaint or affidavit until you have shown it to a clerk, since the forms may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.

If you need immediate protection, tell the clerk that you want to apply for a temporary ex parte restraining order (which would be issued the very same day). A judge can grant you a temporary ex parte order if the judge believes that you or your child is in danger of immediate and severe injury, loss, or damage.1 Note: The abuser does not have to be with you or be told beforehand that you are asking the judge for a temporary restraining order. However, the order is not valid until it is served on the abuser.

1 RI Gen. Laws §§ 8-8.1-4(a)(2); 15-15-4(a)(2)