How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?
There are no fees for filing for a protection order. Domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault victims do not need have to pay to file, issue, register, serve, dismiss, appeal, or enforce an ex parte order of protection, an extended order of protection, or a lifetime order of protection.1
If after a hearing, the judge gives you an order or extends an order of protection, the abuser may have to cover the costs related to the order.
You do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order. However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the TN Finding a Lawyer page. Domestic abuse organizations in your area also may be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals. To find an organization, please visit the TN Advocates and Shelters page.
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.
Note: If the judge does not give you an order or does not extend an order of protection,in some rare situations, the judge may make you pay the costs but only if the judge decides there is clear and convincing evidence that both of the following are true:
- You are not a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault, or one of the relevant felony offenses related to assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or sexual assault that is listed in Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 5 of the Tennessee Code. ; and
- You knew that the domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault, or the above-explained felony offense did not happen when you filed the petition for the order of protection.2
However, the judge cannot order you to pay costs based only on the fact that you requested that your petition be dismissed, you did not go to a hearing, or you did not fill out the forms right.2
1 TN ST § 36-3-617(a)(1)
2 TN ST § 36-3-617(a)(2)