Bridges can provide you with general information about obtaining and understanding a restraining order. This information should not be considered legal advice. If you have questions about the law or your rights, you should contact an attorney. Bridges has a list of legal resources on our website.
If you are in an abusive relationship and are in fear for your physical safety, you have the option to try to obtain a restraining order. You can file Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) paperwork in your local district court (Nashua, Merrimack, Milford) or Hillsborough County Superior Court. A Bridges advocate can meet you at court to provide support and information in obtaining your protective order. A Bridges advocate can also provide support at your Final Restraining Order hearing.
About Your Temporary Restraining Order
Your TRO is a legal document. The following may provide you with answers to some questions.
- Once the defendant is served, the order is in effect until the date of the Final Restraining Order hearing (the date appears at the bottom of your order). Keep a copy of the restraining order with you at all times. If the defendant violates the order, the police will want to see the order when they respond to your call.
- The defendant has the right to request an immediate hearing within five court days. If this occurs, you will need to appear in court before the date on your Temporary Order. If this is the case, the court will notify you.
- The TRO prohibits the defendant from entering your residence and interfering with you. Additional restrictions may be included in your TRO, so be sure to read it carefully.
- The TRO may not specifically restrict you from contacting the defendant, but the court advises that you not have any contact with him or her.
- You must appear in court for the Final Restraining Order hearing. Both parties have the right to hire an attorney for the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will hear both sides and decide if a Final Restraining Order will be granted.
- Please keep in mind that the TRO is a court order and any changes to it must be made through the court. All requests to dismiss a restraining order must be made in person at the court, which has scheduled your final hearing.
- If the defendant violates the conditions of the TRO, you can call the police immediately, make a report, and file a motion of contempt at the court where you received your TRO. Keep a personal diary of all violations. Write down the date, time, and a description of the violation.
- Your TRO (and Final Restraining Order, if granted) is valid everywhere in the United States and must be enforced, no matter where you are when a violation occurs, under the Full Faith and Credit provision of the Violence Against Women Act (1994 Federal Law).
Things to Remember for the Final Restraining Order Hearing
Dress neatly and be courteous. The way you present yourself is important. Remain calm and avoid arguing. Listen carefully to what is said and think a second before speaking. If there is anything that you do not understand, ask to have it explained. Make arrangements for childcare for the day of your final hearing.
Be sure to bring:
Records of hospital and/or medical treatment required as a result of the abuse Police reports of incidents of violence Photographs (private or taken by the police) of bruises and/or cuts resulting from the abuse A list of incidents and a list of requests for relief from the court (i.e. child support) so that you have something written to refer to in case you are too nervous to remember everything in detail Any witnesses to the abuse or injuries Letters from the defendant and/or answering machine messages left by the defendant that include threats or that confirm the abuse Information on your and the defendant's earnings and financial situation (if you are requesting child support, also have a Child Support Affidavit from the Clerk of Court) Documentation to support any request for financial compensation from the defendant (i.e. doctor's bills, prescriptions, repair bills, etc.) and copies of any joint bills which need to be addressed A list of weapons possessed by the defendant and, if possible, their whereabouts.
Have You Thought About Visitation?
If you and the defendant have children, visitation will be discussed at your final hearing. You may want to think about what sort of arrangement for visitation you would find acceptable. Keep in mind that the restraining order prohibits the defendant from having any contact with you. This should be taken into account when making arrangement for visitation and exchanging the children.
Will visitation be supervised or unsupervised? If it will be supervised, you may want to think about possible supervisors. There are also Supervised Visitation Centers in the area.
- Nashua, NH: 603-889-6147
- Salem, NH: 603-893-5432
- Concord, NH: 603-223-9907
- Keene, NH: 603-357-4661
- When and how often will visitation take place?
- Where and when will you arrange to drop off and pick up the children for visitation?
- What setting would you (and the children) prefer for visitation (home, park, restaurant, etc.)?
- Concerns for your safety or the safety of your children during visitation should be raised as issues for the court's consideration.
Safety Tips and Other Considerations
The following are some precautions you may consider taking:
- Make sure you are safe in your home. Change the locks and install steel/metal doors, a security system, smoke detectors, and an outside lighting system.
- Make sure your children are safe. Give a copy of the restraining order to your child's school, daycare center, or anyone else who takes care of your child. Let them know that the defendant may not pick up the child.
- Let other people know about the orders. Let your friends and neighbors know that the defendant no longer lives with you. Ask that they call the police if the defendant is seen near your home, workplace, or school, or if the defendant is seen near your children.
You may be eligible for financial assistance to assist you in making your home secure, moving, or paying necessary bills through the Victim's Compensation Program. A Bridges advocate can assist you in filling out the paperwork.