Step 2: Carefully fill out the forms.
On the court paperwork, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.”
On the petition, write about the incidents using specific language, such as slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc., that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Clerks and magistrates can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write.
If you need immediate protection, tell the clerk that you want to file for a temporary (ex parte) protection order. There is no fee to file for a protection order.1 A judge can grant you a temporary protection order if you are in immediate danger of abuse or for other “good cause.”2 The abuser does not have to be in court or be told beforehand that you are asking the judge for a temporary order for the judge to issue it.
If you are staying at a shelter, give the P.O. Box, not the street address. If the abuser does not know your address, before you fill out your address, ask the clerk first how you can keep your address confidential.
Note: Don’t sign the petition without first checking with the clerk. You may need to sign it in front of a notary public or court official.
1 TN ST § 36-3-617(a)(1)
2 TN ST § 36-3-605(a)