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Legal Information: Tennessee

Restraining Orders

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November 27, 2023

What is the legal definition of domestic abuse?

For purposes of getting a protection order, “domestic abuse” is defined as when someone who has a specific type of relationship to you does any of the following:

  1. physically hurts you, tries to physically hurt you, or puts you in fear of physical harm, other than by accident;
  2. physically restrains you, which means s/he confines your movements or imprisons you in any way, such as locking you in a room, or puts you in fear of physical restraint;
  3. maliciously damages your property on purpose; or
  4. financially abuses you.1

“Financial abuse,” as mentioned in #4 above, means acting in a way that is coercive, deceptive, or unreasonably controls your ability to get or keep economic resources that you have a right to. This can mean restricting your access to money, assets, credit, or financial information, as well as unfairly using your money, assets, or credit to gain an advantage. It can also mean having improper influence (“exerting undue influence”) over your financial behavior or decisions, including:

  • forcing you to default on individual or joint financial obligations;
  • exploiting a power of attorney, guardianship, or conservatorship; or
  • not acting in your best interests if s/he has a duty to protect your best interests (“fiduciary duty”).2

1 TN ST § 36-3-601(1)
2 TN ST § 36-3-601(13)