35-21-103. Petition for order of protection; contents; prerequisites; counsel to be provided petitioners; award of costs and fees
(a) A victim of domestic abuse may petition the court under this act by filing a petition with the circuit court clerk or the district court clerk if the county does not have a circuit court for an order of protection.
(b) The petition shall be made under oath or be accompanied by a sworn affidavit setting out specific facts showing the alleged domestic abuse.
(c) No petitioner is required to file for annulment, separation or divorce as a prerequisite to obtaining an order of protection nor is a person's right to petition for relief affected by that person's leaving the residence or household to avoid domestic abuse.
(d) No filing fee or other court costs or fees shall be assessed or charged to a petitioner seeking an order of protection under this act.
(e) The clerk of the court shall make available standard petition forms with instructions for completion to be used by a petitioner. Forms are to be prepared by the victim services division within the office of the attorney general. Upon receipt of the initial petition by the clerk of the court, the clerk shall refer the matter to the court. The court may appoint an attorney to assist and advise the petitioner or the petitioner may hire an attorney or file pro se.
(f) The court shall not deny a petitioner relief requested pursuant to this act solely because of a lapse of time between an act of domestic abuse and the filing of the petition for an order of protection.
(g) It shall not be a bar to filing a petition or receiving an order of protection under this act that:
(i) A criminal or civil order is entered in a case pending against the respondent or between the petitioner and respondent;
(ii) The petitioner has petitioned for or received orders of protection in the past or that the petitioner has withdrawn a petition or asked to have orders rescinded; or
(iii) There is evidence of some domestic abuse on the part of the petitioner.
(h) The court may require the respondent to pay costs and fees incurred in bringing an action pursuant to this act including reasonable attorney's fees whether the attorney is court appointed or retained by petitioner.