How To File a Restraining Order in Missouri
There are two types of restraining orders in Missouri family law, one to prevent a spouse from misbehaving during the divorce and the other to protect family members from domestic violence. Here are the steps you can take to ask the court to grant a restraining order in the state of Missouri.
Step 1: Get to Safety
If you’re being abused and you wish to seek a divorce, find somewhere safe to stay. This place of safety could be with a friend, relative, or coworker, but make sure your spouse doesn’t know where you will be going. If you need help, there are resources available in the area. Visit the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Violence website, which has a service locator map.
Step 2: File a Petition
You can go to the circuit court nearest to you and file a petition for a protection order, or you can find these forms online. If a family member of yours is being abused, you are eligible to request a domestic violence order by virtue of being related to the abused. The court can deny or grant the order, but if they do grant it, the other party will be served with the injunction. In cases of domestic violence, you must be able to prove your relationship to the person you want to be restrained as well as prove the acts of abuse or violence against you. Take photos of any visible marks or bruises to use as evidence. Medical and police reports can also be used in court. Someone you know could also testify on your behalf if they witnessed abusive behavior.
There are no fees for seeking an order of protection. You can ask for an ex parte order, which means you will be able to talk to a judge about why you want a restraining order as soon as possible. Your spouse doesn’t need to be present, and the order is temporary until a hearing can be arranged.
Step 3: Get the Order Served
Even with an ex parte order, the document doesn’t go into effect until the person bound by the order is served. The court will usually arrange for a sheriff’s deputy to serve the other person. The ex parte order expires on the date of your hearing, where you can request a permanent order. You have the right to be notified when the order is properly served, but you must tell the court clerk you want to receive notice in advance.
Step 4: Prepare for Your Hearing
The hearing will usually be scheduled within a couple of weeks of the date of the filed petition. You might want to prepare by hiring a skilled St. Charles family law attorney to represent you. This allows you to present your evidence through a neutral third party who won’t be intimidated by your abuser. You will also want to gather proof of the abuse and any witnesses who can testify on your behalf.
Step 5: Attend the Hearing
Try to arrive at least half an hour before the hearing begins. If you don’t show up, the judge will dismiss your petition, and your temporary order will not become permanent. If your abuser doesn’t show up, the judge may grant your request for a full order, or the judge will schedule another hearing at a later date and extend your ex parte hearing.
You will have the opportunity to present your story to the judge. This hearing is formal, so the rules of civil procedure and evidence will still apply. Because this is a formal hearing, having an attorney there to represent you will be advantageous. Make sure to behave well in the courtroom and avoid shouting or interrupting your spouse, even if he or she is lying. You or your lawyer will have the opportunity to question the person under the restraining order.
Step 6: Receive Your Permanent Order
If your hearing goes well, the judge will decide the order is warranted based on all evidence presented. In addition to the protection offered by the ex parte order, the full order can include an award of child custody, child support, spousal support, or possession of property, if any of these are applicable to your situation. The judge may also order the person to pay your court costs or legal fees in addition to any medical bills caused by their abuse. This order will last anywhere from 180 days to a year, depending on your situation.
A full order can also include automatic renewal unless the person under the restraint files an objection and requests a hearing within 30 days before it is set to expire. If it doesn’t have an automatic renewal, you must file a motion with the court to have it renewed, and the judge will hold another hearing to determine whether renewal is necessary.
If you need help filing, or you need an advocate to represent your case in court, don’t hesitate to call us. Smith Law Offices, LLC has experienced lawyers with more than 20 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. Let us see how we can help you and your family.
Contact us at (636) 400-1177 or fill out our online form to schedule a case review with us today.