Prior, During, After Divorce
Orders of Protection

The Order of Protection statute in Tennessee law describes a domestic abuse victim as: "adults or minors who are current or former spouses; adults or minors who live or have lived together; adults or minors who are dating or have dated or who have or had a sexual relationship (as used herein, “dating” and “dated” do not include fraternization between two (2) individuals in a business or social context); adults or minors related by blood or adoption; adults or minors who are related or were formerly related by marriage; or adult or minor children of a person in a relationship that is described above".

An Order of Protection can be obtained by any domestic abuse victim, stalking victim, or sexual assault victim, who has been threatened with, or placed in fear of, domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault. Tennessee law § 39-17-315 prohibits stalking, defining it as a course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

To obtain an Order of Protection, the petitioner may seek relief by filing a sworn petition alleging the abuse. The venue in which a petitioner may file the sworn petition must be in the county where they reside or the county where the abuse occurred under. There are no initial filing costs for an Order of Protection.

Upon filing the petition for an Order of Protection, a Judge will either sign an ex parte order of protection for good cause shown (petitioner must show that there is an immediate and present danger of abuse), or the Judge will set the case for hearing if an ex parte order is not granted. Within fifteen days of the service of the ex parte order, a hearing must be held.

In Tennessee law, the scope of an Order of Protection may include, but is not limited to:

  • Directing the respondent to refrain from committing abuse or threatening to commit abuse against the petitioner or the petitioner’s minor children;
  • Prohibiting the respondent from telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with petitioner, directly or indirectly;
  • Prohibiting the respondent from stalking the petitioner as defined in T.C.A. § 39-17-315.
  • Granting to the petitioner possession of the residence or household to the exclusion of the respondent by evicting the respondent, by restoring possession to the petitioner, or by both;
  • Directing the respondent to provide subtle alternate housing for the petitioner when the respondent is the sole owner or lessee of the residence or household;
  • Awarding temporary custody of, or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to, any minor children born to or adopted by the parties;
  • Awarding financial support to the petitioner and such persons as the respondent has a duty to support;
  • Directing the respondent to attend available counseling programs that address violence and control issues or substance abuse problems;
  • Ordering payment of attorney fees and court costs.

If the Order of Protection is violated, the court may hold the defendant in civil or criminal contempt and the judge may assess any person who violates an Order of Protection a civil penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00). An arrest for violation of the Order of Protection may be with or without a warrant; however, no ex parte Order of Protection can be enforced by arrest until the respondent has been served an Order of Protection or has actual knowledge of the order. After a person is arrested, the arresting officer must inform the victim that the arrested person may be eligible to post bond and may be released until the trial date.

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