Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders
What to Expect When Filing or Responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection from Domestic Violence or Stalking
Circuit Court Judge Susan Carbon provides information about the court process for filing and responding to a petition for domestic violence or a stalking order of protection.
What to Expect When Filing or Responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection from Domestic Violence or Stalking
What to Expect When Filing or Responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection from Domestic Violence or Stalking
Transcript of video:
[00:00:00.790] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Hello, my name is Susan Carbon and I'm a judge in the Circuit Court. I usually sit in Manchester, but you may see me in other court locations as well. The purpose of this video is to provide you with information about the court process for filing and responding to a petition for domestic violence or a stalking order of protection. Before I explain the court process, I first want to say a few words about why we have domestic violence and stalking orders and what they're for. A domestic violence order of protection, which is sometimes called a protection order, is meant to give legal protection from physical violence, sexual violence, threats of bodily harm, threats of false imprisonment or kidnapping, threats against a pet, and destruction of property by a certain group of people.
[00:00:47.930] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The person who files the petition requesting a domestic violence or stalking protection order is called the plaintiff. The person against whom the protection order is requested is called the defendant. This video is designed to give information to both the plaintiff and the defendant. There must be a particular relationship between a plaintiff and a defendant in a domestic violence case. Let me take a moment to explain what those relationships are.
[00:01:15.230] - Hon. Susan Carbon
For a plaintiff to qualify for a domestic violence order, he or she must be in one of these relationships with the defendant. A current or former spouse, a person the plaintiff lives with or has lived with, but in some form of family or romantic relationship. Not like a college roommate where two people just share an apartment together, a current or former sexual or intimate partner, someone the plaintiff is currently dating or has formally dated, or someone with whom the plaintiff shares a child in common. This includes minors or parents or other family members who are related by blood or marriage. For example, a teenager can get an order of protection against someone he or she has been dating in high school.
[00:01:58.190] - Hon. Susan Carbon
You may have also heard about stalking orders. A stalking order of protection is different from a domestic violence order of protection. A stalking order is meant to stop further acts targeted at a specific person, and those acts must cause the targeted person to fear for his or her own personal safety or the safety of a member of that person's immediate family. The acts must involve a course of conduct. A course of conduct is two or more acts.
[00:02:25.580] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Examples of qualifying acts are following or confronting a person or a person's immediate family member, causing damage to the person's property or the property of that person's immediate family, and multiple acts of communication. If none of the relationships that are necessary for a domestic violence order exist, but the plaintiff is still afraid, a stalking order of protection may be an option depending upon what has happened. If you do not qualify for either domestic violence or a stalking order, you may also be able to get a civil restraining order from the superior court. A video on how to apply for this type of order may be found on the court's website in the same area where you found this particular video. When a plaintiff files for domestic violence or stalking order of protection, he or she will usually file in the family or the district division of the circuit court where either the plaintiff or the defendant lives.
[00:03:21.350] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Any circuit court may accept a petition and will transfer it to the correct court location if necessary. When you go into any courthouse in New Hampshire, just like in an airport, you should expect to go through a security screen. You'll have to empty your pockets into a container to be examined along with anything else you brought. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to bring only what you need for your court visit. Of course, under no circumstances should you bring weapons or sharp objects, and please do not bring any food or beverages into the courthouse.
[00:03:54.170] - Hon. Susan Carbon
You are, however, allowed to bring your cell phone or your laptop. We have limited wireless connections available, but please put all sounds on silent before you enter the courthouse. For the next few minutes, I'll be providing information for the plaintiff. Later in the video, I will provide information for the defendant on how to respond to a petition. Before I start talking about the court process, though, I want you to know this.
[00:04:19.910] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If you, as the plaintiff are in fear for your safety or you would like help in applying for an order of protection, there are local crisis centers that may be able to provide support and assistance, either before you come to court on the day you come to court to fill out the paperwork or both. The crisis centers can also provide information about how to find an attorney. Call 1-866-644-3574 to speak with an advocate from a crisis center. The crisis centers do not charge any fee for their services, nor is there any fee from the court. When you file a petition.
[00:04:58.410] - Hon. Susan Carbon
When you come to court to request an order of protection, please allow enough time because the process from start to finish can take more than an hour. There's a lot of paperwork to fill out, and then the staff must have the judge review the petition before an order can be issued. So please plan to be at the courthouse as early as possible. What I'm showing you now is the actual domestic violence petition. As you can see, it has several important sections which must be completed.
[00:05:26.530] - Hon. Susan Carbon
It is very important to fill out the forms as thoroughly as possible so that the judge can understand what has happened and be able to issue an order that will meet your needs and keep you safe. First, you will need to check the box that describes the relationship between you and the defendant. Remember, for domestic violence order, only, certain relationships will qualify. Next, in the section that starts with to the judge of the court, you must provide a clear and detailed description of why you are in immediate danger of abuse by the defendant. In other words, it's helpful to begin with telling the court while you're filing the request on that particular day.
[00:06:07.060] - Hon. Susan Carbon
You must include facts and dates that relate to the fear and the abuse that has occurred. Write down what the defendant has done to you and when and why you are in immediate fear for your safety. The information needs to be thorough, accurate, and honest. It may be difficult for you to write down what has happened, but if the information is not complete, the judge may not be able to issue an order. Please keep in mind that the defendant will receive a copy of everything you write down in the petition.
[00:06:37.890] - Hon. Susan Carbon
When you're done with that section, complete the rest of the form carefully, including which orders you're asking the judge to consider. A form called the Domestic Violence Confidential Information Sheet will be included in the packet for you to complete. This sheet remains private and cannot be given to anyone without court approval. It is not shared with the defendant. It includes the plaintiff's name, address, mailing address.
[00:07:04.600] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If it's different from the physical address, telephone numbers and place of employment. This must be filled out thoroughly and accurately so that the court staff can get in touch with you easily in case the hearing date needs to be changed. A sheet called the Defendant Information Sheet for Law Enforcement is also included in the packet. It asks for information about the defendant's appearance, history, where he or she can be found, and about any weapons he or she may have. If an order is issued, this form will be given to law enforcement to help them serve a copy to the defendant so that it is important that this form also be completed as thoroughly as possible.
[00:07:47.190] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Serving means that a police officer gives the defendant a copy of the petition and the order in person, along with notice of the date and the time of the final hearing on the petition. After all of these forms are completed, the court staff will take your oath and ask that you attest to the truth and the accuracy of the petition, so please make sure you bring identification with you. A judge will then review the petition and decide if a temporary order of protection should be issued. The judge may have questions for you and, if so, may speak with you in person, in the courtroom or by telephone if the judge is at a different court location. If the judge decides that you qualify for a temporary order, the defendant will be ordered to keep away from you and to have no contact with you, either directly or through third persons.
[00:08:38.160] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The judge may also order that the defendant's firearms and ammunition be relinquished. If the plaintiff and defendant have children together, the judge will typically give the plaintiff sole custody of the children until a hearing is scheduled. The judge may allow visitation either supervised, supervised with security or unsupervised. Or the judge may prohibit contact until the judge can talk with the defendant in person. If there's a parenting plan in connection with a divorce or legal separation that is already in place, the judge can order that the parenting plan be overridden temporarily by the order of protection. This means that the order of protection will determine visitation, not the parenting plan.
[00:09:24.030] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If the petition is granted on a temporary basis, the order will be enforceable throughout New Hampshire as well as throughout the entire United States. All law enforcement agencies will have access to the order in the national database. Last a final hearing will be scheduled within 30 days. Before leaving the court, you will be given a copy of your petition and a certified copy of the order. It's a good idea to keep the order with you at all times, even though law enforcement can get a copy of it.
[00:09:55.230] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Remember to bring the petition to the final hearing so that you can more easily remember what you wrote about why you need the order. When the final hearing occurs, you can only discuss the matters that were written down in the petition. If there's additional information that you think the judge should know about at the hearing, then you must come to the court and write it down so that it may be added to the petition. This is called Amending the Petition. A copy of any additional information that you write down will be given to the defendant.
[00:10:26.010] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The court will immediately send the local police Department a copy of the temporary order if it is granted so that it can be served on the defendant. The court will also give a copy of the petition, the notice of the hearing, and the defendant information sheet to the police. It is possible that the court may not grant a temporary order and let me explain what else could happen. As we've talked about, the court must believe that you are in immediate danger to issue a temporary order. It's possible that the court may believe that there has been abuse and that there is a possibility of abuse in the future that may not believe that you're in immediate risk of danger.
[00:11:06.640] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If this is the case, the court might schedule a final hearing but not issue a temporary order. If temporary orders are not issued but a final hearing is scheduled, the plaintiff can request to withdraw the petition. If the plaintiff does not withdraw the petition, then the petition will be given to the defendant by law enforcement. This may create a dangerous situation for the plaintiff because from that time until the date of the final hearing, no orders of protection for the plaintiff are in place. Now it's also possible that the petition will be denied.
[00:11:41.810] - Hon. Susan Carbon
In that case, the defendant does not get a copy of the petition or the order denying it unless they come to the court to request a copy. If the petition is denied, the plaintiff can file another petition at any time and include additional facts. Now, for the next few minutes, I will be talking to the defendant about how to respond to receiving a domestic violence or stalking order or a petition. With a hearing notice where no temporary order was issued, law enforcement will hand deliver a packet to you. You will have to sign for the packet.
[00:12:15.700] - Hon. Susan Carbon
This is called being served. At that time, you may also have to show your identification so that the officer can make sure that he or she is serving the right person with the court order. In that packet, there will also be a copy of the petition, a copy of the domestic violence or stalking order if one was issued, and the hearing notice with the date, time, and location of the final hearing. In some instances, the judge will order that you cannot possess firearms or ammunition. If that's the case, you will have to turn over any firearms, ammunition and deadly weapons to the police officer.
[00:12:53.130] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Later in the process, you may be able to ask the court for them to be returned. There's information on motions for return of firearms in the video entitled what to Expect at a Final Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Hearing.
[00:13:10.170] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Please read the order carefully. It prohibits you from contacting the plaintiff and has other orders you must follow. If you violate the order, you may be arrested and held in jail until your arraignment. This will start a criminal case. If you're then convicted, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $2,000.
[00:13:32.250] - Hon. Susan Carbon
As noted earlier, the final hearing is normally scheduled within 30 days. This allows you time to prepare for the hearing and perhaps find a lawyer to assist you if you wish. Since this is a civil case and not a criminal case, the court cannot appoint an attorney to represent you. If you object to the order, you must attend the final hearing. You also have the right to request that hearing be held within three to five business days of the petition being filed.
[00:14:00.970] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If you want an earlier hearing date, you should go to the court to file a written request that would be scheduled more quickly. After you complete the form the court will notify the plaintiff of the earlier date. Please note, if a protective order has been issued, you must fully comply with the order at all times, even if you have requested a sooner hearing on the petition. Now, finally, this information is for both the plaintiff and the defendant. The petition may be withdrawn by the plaintiff at any time.
[00:14:32.460] - Hon. Susan Carbon
To withdraw the petition, the plaintiff must come to the court and complete a request for withdrawal form. Most likely, the judge will want to speak with the plaintiff about this request to ensure that the plaintiff is not being coerced or forced into withdrawing the petition. If the petition is not withdrawn by the plaintiff, the next court event will be the final hearing. To learn more about that hearing, please watch the video on this website entitled what to Expect at a Final Domestic Violence or stalking Order of Protection hearing. You may also call the circuit court information center at 1-855-212-1234 with any additional questions you may have about the court process.
[00:15:17.670] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Circuit Court Judge Susan Carbon provides information about what to expect at a Final Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Hearing.
What to Expect at a Final Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Hearing
What to Expect at a Final Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Hearing
Transcript of video:
[00:00:00.490] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Hello, my name is Susan Carbon and I'm a judge in the Circuit Court. I usually sit in Manchester, but you might see me in other courts as well. The purpose of this video is to provide you with information about what to expect at a Final Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Hearing. Before you watch this video, I want to encourage you to watch another video, if you haven't already, that talks about the process leading up to a final hearing. It is called what to Expect when Filing or Responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection From Domestic Violence or Stalking.
[00:00:38.750] - Hon. Susan Carbon
That video has important information for plaintiffs and defendants about applying for protection orders and what a person should do if he or she is served with an order. This video will make more sense if you've also seen the other video first. If the court has issued a temporary order, a final hearing will be scheduled. It is also possible that the court will schedule a final hearing even if no temporary order was issued, because the court will have determined that there was no immediate risk of harm. The purpose of this hearing is for the judge to decide if a final order should be issued.
[00:01:16.560] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If it is, it will remain in place for up to one year, with the possibility of extending that order for additional time. First, a couple of reminders from the earlier video. The person who files the petition requesting an order of protection is called the plaintiff. The person who the plaintiff wants the protection from is called the defendant. We have created this video to give information to both the plaintiff and the defendant.
[00:01:43.490] - Hon. Susan Carbon
When you go into any courthouse in New Hampshire, just like at an airport, you should expect to go through a security screening. You will have to empty your pockets into a container for examination along with anything else you brought. Therefore, we encourage you to bring only what you need. Of course, under no circumstances should you bring weapons or sharp objects, and please do not bring any food or beverages into the courthouse. You are, however, allowed to bring your cell phone or your laptop.
[00:02:12.170] - Hon. Susan Carbon
We have limited wireless connections available, but please be sure to put all sounds on silent before you enter the courthouse. Each person should let the court security officer at the entrance to the court know that he or she is in court for a domestic violence or stalking final hearing. The officer will make sure that the parties are separated and remain apart until they are told to go into the courtroom for the hearing. However, if this does not happen for some reason, go directly to the court clerk counter for guidance on where to wait so that you are not waiting near the other person. If a final hearing is scheduled, it is very important that both the plaintiff and the defendant attend the hearing.
[00:02:57.110] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If the plaintiff has safety concerns about attending the hearing in person. The plaintiff may contact the court to discuss participating by telephone. The judge will need to hear what has happened from the plaintiff and any witnesses who the plaintiff may call to provide additional evidence. If the plaintiff does not show up for the hearing, it is quite likely that the court will dismiss the case. If the defendant objects to a final order, it will be necessary for the defendant to also attend the hearing and also bring any witnesses he or she may ask to testify about the allegations of abuse.
[00:03:34.130] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If the plaintiff appears and the defendant does not, the court will consider that the defendant has given up his or her right to object to the order. Please make arrangements in advance for the care of your children. Unfortunately, there are not any facilities at court for children, and they are not permitted to be in the courtroom during the hearing. I'd like to talk with you now about what to expect when you go into the courtroom and testify in front of the judge. Please be aware that court hearings are open to the public, so it is possible that there may be other people in the courtroom at the same time your case is being heard.
[00:04:10.310] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Both the plaintiff and the defendant will be in the courtroom at the same time if several hearings are scheduled at once, and that's likely the security officer will show each person where to sit so that you are not near one another. When your case is called, each party will be directed to take a seat at one of the tables that are in front of the judge's bench. The judge will ask you both to take an oath to tell the truth. Advocates are permitted to sit with the plaintiff, but they are not sworn in and do not speak during the hearing. Both the plaintiff and the defendant are allowed to testify, which means to speak under oath about the information contained in the petition.
[00:04:52.370] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The plaintiff will speak first because it is the plaintiff who is asking for the order. The plaintiff will need to explain why a final protective order should be issued against the defendant. The court will also allow the defendant to ask questions if he or she has any. If the plaintiff has any witnesses, they will testify next. And again, the defendant will be allowed to ask them questions if he or she has any.
[00:05:17.390] - Hon. Susan Carbon
There are three important parts to a final hearing that the plaintiff must show. First is their relationship to the defendant. Second is the conduct that is abuse as defined in our state law. And third, the plaintiff must show the court that the defendant is a credible threat to his or her ongoing safety. Let's talk about these in a little bit more detail.
[00:05:41.150] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If you recall from the earlier video, for a plaintiff to qualify for a domestic violence order of protection, he or she must be in one of these relationships with the defendant, a current or former spouse, a person the plaintiff lives with or has lived with, but in some form of family or romantic relationship. Not like a College roommate where two people simply share an apartment together, a current or former sexual or intimate partner, someone the plaintiff is currently dating or has formerly dated, or someone with whom the plaintiff shares a child in common. Now, if it is a stalking case, these special relationships are not necessary. Second, the conduct or the behavior of the defendant must be something that is covered under our state definitions of domestic violence, such as assault, criminal, threatening, destruction of property. There's a lot of bad behavior that may happen, but if it is not included in our state definition of abuse for purposes of granting a protection order, such as using profanity or insulting the plaintiff, then the judge will not be able to issue an order.
[00:06:48.650] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Additionally, the plaintiff must have described the unlawful behavior on the petition when he or she filed it. Third, the plaintiff must provide information showing that the defendant is a credible threat to their ongoing safety. When the plaintiff has finished all of his or her testimony, the defendant will then have his or her chance to tell the court why an order should not be granted. The defendant will testify, and if he or she has any witnesses, they may also testify. The plaintiff has a chance to ask questions after each witness, just like the defendant does.
[00:07:24.530] - Hon. Susan Carbon
As an aside, if either of you are going to have witnesses testify, they must have personal knowledge about what has happened. They must be at court on time as well because they must be physically present to testify. Once the judge has concluded the hearing, the case is over and the judge will not allow people to testify later. Both parties may bring evidence that relates to what is in the petition. Examples of evidence include photos of the physical abuse or the property damage that happened during the abuse letters, notes, screenshots from electronic communications, medical records, police documents, and so on.
[00:08:03.170] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If either of you have any documents, such as police reports or bills, that you want to give the court in support of your position, you must bring copies to give to the other party and to the court. The judge will then decide whether to accept any of these materials as evidence in the case. When the hearing is over. After listening to both parties, the judge will need to decide if the facts presented support a finding of abuse under the law. There are three possible results.
[00:08:33.230] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If the judge decides that there was abuse and that there is also a credible threat to the plaintiff's safety, a final order of protection will be granted and will last for up to one year. The plaintiff will be directed to go to the clerks counter to wait for the order. The defendant will be asked to wait until the plaintiff has left the courthouse and then the defendant will be given his or her copy of the order. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, a copy of the order will be mailed or served by local law enforcement. After listening to both sides, the judge may take the matter under advisement.
[00:09:09.530] - Hon. Susan Carbon
This means that the judge needs more time to think about the case and then to decide if it's appropriate to grant a final order. If a temporary order was granted previously, that order will remain in effect until the judge reaches the final decision. Each party will receive a copy of the order. Most likely, if the order was not issued on the same day as the hearing, the order will be mailed to each party. However, it's also possible that the order may be delivered to the defendant by the local law enforcement agency.
[00:09:41.630] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Then, third, after listening to both sides, the judge may decide that there is not enough evidence of abuse as it is defined under our law and or there is a lack of credible threat to the plaintiff's safety. If that happens, the court will dismiss the case and no final order of protection will be issued. If there was a temporary order in effect, the temporary order will also be dismissed. In this situation if other instances of abuse occur in the future, a new petition may be filed. However, the newly filed petition must include new instances of abuse and may also reference those prior instances of abuse that have been included in the dismissed petition.
[00:10:23.390] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If a final order is granted, the order will remain in effect for up to one year. The order will be entered into NCIC, the National Crime Information Center, a federal database, and is enforceable all across the country. The defendant must follow the terms of the order or risk being arrested for violating the order no matter where the violation occurs. An arrest may lead to criminal charges being filed against the defendant and further court action. The judge can also order that the defendant not have any contact with the plaintiff and not go within a certain distance of the plaintiff.
[00:10:58.650] - Hon. Susan Carbon
You should know the contact includes things like texts, instant messages, social media posts, and telephone calls. In addition to face to face contact. It also includes third party contact. So please keep in mind that asking other people to send messages to the plaintiff is a violation of the court order. The judge can also order that the defendant stay away from where the plaintiff works, resides, or goes to school, and that the defendant not threatened to use physical force against the plaintiff or the party's children or pets.
[00:11:30.230] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The defendant may also be ordered to not damage or take any of the plaintiff's property and can also order that the plaintiffs have exclusive use of the car and or the residence. The defendant may also be ordered to attend a batter's intervention program. And finally, the defendant may be ordered to pay medical, legal, or counseling bills. If a final order is granted the defendant will also be required to give up all firearms, ammunition, and deadly weapons to law enforcement during the time the order is in effect.
[00:12:03.470] - Hon. Susan Carbon
When the order is about to expire, the defendant may file a motion asking to have those items returned. If a final order is granted, the judge may also include orders that deal with any children that the plaintiff and defendant have together. Typically, the judge will order that the plaintiff have sole custody in other words, decision making and residential responsibility, but may allow for visitation either supervised or unsupervised. The judge will use a list of factors to decide if and how the defendant should be able to see the children. Examples of factors that the judge will consider include whether the children or plaintiff will be at risk for physical or mental harm as a result of the visitation with the defendant, whether the defendant and children can use supervised visitation at a visitation center, and whether visitation can occur without the plaintiff and defendant having contact with each other.
[00:12:58.080] - Hon. Susan Carbon
The judge can also order that the defendant financially support any children that he or she has with the plaintiff unless there's a legal reason that the defendant should not support them. If so, both parties must complete financial affidavits. If either party disagrees with the ruling of the court, either may file an appeal with the Supreme Court within 30 days. However, the Supreme Court will not review the facts of the case. The Supreme Court will only review any legal issues that came up during the hearing. You will get a Notice of Appellate Rights with the order.
[00:13:32.700] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Please make sure to read that carefully before filing an appeal. I would now like to talk to you about extensions of the final orders. A plaintiff may file a motion to request an extension of the final order. The motion must be filed before the order has expired. The plaintiff must show that there is good reason to extend the order.
[00:13:53.030] - Hon. Susan Carbon
If the court grants the extension, the defendant will be given a copy and also be given an opportunity to have a hearing with both parties present to explain why the order should not be extended. After the first extension if the plaintiff is still afraid, he or she may request another extension for up to five years. At any time, the plaintiff may file a written request to withdraw an order. The judge will usually talk with the plaintiff to make sure that the request is voluntary and that the plaintiff feels safe. If other instances of abuse occur in the future, a new petition may be filed.
[00:14:29.450] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Legal representation is allowed for each party in these cases. If you are unable to hire your own lawyer, you may be able to get assistance by contacting New Hampshire Legal Assistance at 180-639-5290. If you are the plaintiff you may also be able to receive assistance from the local domestic violence crisis center. If you would like an advocate to attend the final hearing, call the main number for all of the crisis centers in New Hampshire at 1-866-644-3574.
[00:15:03.030] - Hon. Susan Carbon
Finally, if you have children together but you do not have any court orders regarding their care, you may also want to file a parenting petition. The staff of the court can give you information about this process. Additional questions may be directed to the court at 1-855-212-1234. Thank you.
Superior Court services representative Marge Malfitani talks about about civil restraining orders and what to expect when you need one or when you get served one.
Civil Restraining Orders
Civil Restraining Orders
Transcript of video:
[00:00:00.670] - Marge Malfitani
My name is Marge Malfitani and I'm a Superior Court Services representative. I want to talk to you today about civil restraining orders and what to expect when you need one or when you get served one. A civil restraining order is a court order telling someone to stay away from you or to stop an action that directly affects you or someone under your care. Some police departments may recommend that you obtain a civil restraining order when no criminal laws have been broken or you do not want to press charges. To request the court issue a civil restraining order, you will need to complete a Complaint for Restraining Order form and file the completed form in the Superior Court in the county where you live or the county where the person you are filing against lives.
[00:00:40.850] - Marge Malfitani
A filing fee is required to be paid upon the filing of the completed form. To obtain the amount of the filing fee, please contact our call center at 1-855-212-1234 or review our fee schedule online at courts.state.nh.us.
[00:00:58.190] - Marge Malfitani
There will also be a fee for the Sheriff to serve the paperwork on the opposing party after hearing the schedule by the court. The amount of the fee for the service is set by Sheriff's Department and the amount will vary by county. The Complaint for Restraining Order form may be found on the Judicial Branch website, or you may obtain a copy of the form from the Superior Court Clerk's Office. Once the form has been completed, the original complaint and two copies for each person you have named in the complaint is required to be submitted for filing along with your filing fee.
[00:01:28.820] - Marge Malfitani
If you are unable to afford the filing fee, you may file an application for a waiver of Superior Court fees and costs, a form for which may also be found on the Judicial Branch website or at the Superior Court Clerk's Office. On the top portion of the complaint, fill in the court name, case name, and case number. The court name will be the County Superior Court where you are filing the form. The case name will be your name or the name of the person you are filing on behalf of versus the name of the person you are filing against. When the form is filed, a case number will be assigned by court staff.
[00:02:02.600] - Marge Malfitani
You will need the address of the person you're filing against. You will want to explain in detail on the form what has happened to bring you to file for restraining order. Additional sheets of paper may be attached if necessary. If additional space is needed, please write only one side of each eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper that you attach. Describe what orders you would like the court to make.
[00:02:24.300] - Marge Malfitani
If you're looking for immediate order to be issued by the court before the opposing party has been notified that the complaint has been filed, this is referred to ex parte relief. You'll be required to describe to the court why it is important that the court review your complaint and issue an order before the opposing party has had an opportunity to be heard on the request. There are three possible outcomes if the complaint is filed on a ex parte basis. The court may enter a temporary order and schedule a hearing. The court may schedule a hearing without issuing a temporary order or the court may dismiss the complaint without hearing. Once you have completed the form, you will be required to sign and date the form and have your oath taken before a justice of the peace or notary public.
[00:03:07.310] - Marge Malfitani
You may use a justice or notary of your choice or one is available in the clerk's office if needed. Please note that photo identification is required if you are asking court staff to take your oath. What happens next? If you did not ask for ex parte relief, a hearing will be scheduled. Court staff will provide you with a service packet that you will need to bring to the Sheriff's Department to be served on the opposing party.
[00:03:30.510] - Marge Malfitani
If the complaint was filed on an ex parte basis, you will be asked to wait until the judge is available to look at your paperwork. This may take as little as 30 minutes or until late in the day, depending on the judge's schedule that day. If you feel safe, you may leave and return later to pick up your paperwork. Once a judge reviews your ex parte request, he or she will decide whether or not to issue a temporary order. If the judge issues a temporary order and schedules a hearing or schedules a hearing without a temporary order, court staff will provide you with a service package that we need to bring to the Sheriff's Department to be served on the opposing party.
[00:04:05.280] - Marge Malfitani
If the judge dismisses the complaint filed on an ex parte basis, the case will close. What should you bring to your court hearing? Bring with you proof that service was made on the opposing party. Bring any other paperwork that you would like the judge to see. Make copies of the paperwork to give to both the court and the opposing party.
[00:04:23.300] - Marge Malfitani
You may also bring witnesses. For further information watch the video "what to expect at a court hearing" also available on the court's website.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
There are community organizations that provide free and confidential support services to anyone who has been impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking. Services are open and affirming to all, including for the friends and family of survivors. More information can be found at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
Many types of court orders are called orders of protection or a restraining orders including:
- Domestic Violence Order of Protection
- Stalking Order of Protection
- Criminal Bail Order
- Civil Restraining Order
- Other Circuit Court Orders
Court staff cannot provide advice about what type of court order is best for your situation. However, there are several organizations that can provide legal advice, including legal aid organizations which provide reduced cost or free assistance.
This court order protects a person who has been abused by a family or household member or by a current or former sexual or intimate partner as defined in RSA 173-B. The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) files the case against the other party (“the defendant”).
This court order protects a person who has been stalked as defined by RSA 633:3-a.The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) files the case against the other party (“the defendant”). There does not need to be a special relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. A person who has been stalked by a family member, household member, or current or former intimate partner might also qualify for a Domestic Violence Order of Protection.
What to Expect in a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Case
What type of protections (“Relief”) can the judge order?
The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) can ask the judge for many types of protective orders (“relief”). A complete list can be found in RSA 173-B. Some examples of relief that the judge can order include ordering the defendant to:
- Stop abusing or stalking the plaintiff or their family or household members
- Stop contacting the plaintiff
- Stay away from the plaintiff and their home, place of employment, or school, etc.
- Give their firearms, guns, and/or deadly weapons to the police
- Give the plaintiff their property, including animals
- The judge may also be able to make temporary custody decisions
If you have questions about what types of orders the judge can issue in your case, seek legal advice.
Where to go to ask for a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection?
The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) can go to in person any Circuit Court location to start a case. Domestic Violence Order of Protection cases are heard in Family Division and Stalking Order of Protection cases are heard in District Division.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning May 26, 2020 and until further notice, the plaintiff may also be able to start the case electronically, without going to the courthouse, by contacting a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center.
What to expect when asking for or responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection?
When a person arrives at a courthouse to ask for an order of protection, court staff will provide them with the domestic violence or stalking petition forms. There is no fee to file. The judge will review the petition and make one of the following decisions:
- Grant a Temporary Order of Protection and schedule a final hearing
- Schedule a final hearing without granting a Temporary Order of Protection
- Deny the petition without scheduling a final hearing
If a final hearing is scheduled, the police will give the petition and any Temporary Order of Protection to the defendant in person.
To help you prepare to ask for or respond to an Order of Protection petition, review the following:
What to expect at the Order of Protection final hearing?
At the final hearing, the plaintiff and the defendant can each tell the judge their side and give evidence. After the judge listens to both sides and reviews the evidence, the judge will either:
- Grant a Final Order of Protection (for up to one year)
- Dismiss the case
- Wait to make a decision or “take the matter under advisement.” If the judge does this, any Temporary Order of Protection will remain in place until the judge makes a final decision.
Extending a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection beyond one year
The Plaintiff must file any request to further extend the Order of Protection before the order expires.
Violations of a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection
If you have additional questions, you can call the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.
After a person has been arrested (“the defendant”) for committing a crime against another person (“the victim”), a judge or bail commissioner may grant the defendant bail. If the defendant and victim have a certain type of family or intimate relationship, the bail order may be called a Domestic Violence/Stalking Criminal Order of Protection (“CBPO”). Unlike a Domestic Violence Order of Protection or a Stalking Order of Protection, the victim does not ask for the CBPO or bail order. Only the prosecutor or the defendant can ask the judge to change or drop a bail order or a CBPO. A bail order or a CBPO can require that the defendant stay away from the victim but it cannot create a parenting schedule or a custody determination. A bail order or a CBPO will automatically end when the criminal case is over.
A Civil Restraining Order is court order telling someone (“the defendant”) to stay away from or to stop an action that directly affects the person asking for the order (“the plaintiff”). There are no special relationships or specific criminal acts that are needed to ask for a Civil Restraining Order.
The plaintiff asks a Superior Court judge for a Civil Restraining Order by filing electronically unless extraordinary circumstances exist. There is a fee to file. If the plaintiff cannot pay the fee, they can file a Motion to Waive Filing Fee.
In most circumstances, the judge will not issue a Civil Restraining Order until after the plaintiff and defendant both have had a chance to tell their side. For a judge to issue an order without notice to the other side (known as ex parte, or emergency relief) circumstances must exist which pose a real risk that irreparable harm will result if the judge does not take immediate action without hearing from all sides to the dispute.
The Civil Restraining Order Checklist provides more information about how to file for and respond to a civil restraining order case.
- Juvenile Abuse Order of Protection Issued Pursuant to RSA 169-C:7-a
- Juvenile Abuse/Neglect Order of Protection Issued Pursuant to RSA 169-C:16, 19
- Marital Restraining Order Issued Pursuant to RSA 458
- Parenting Restraining Order Issued Pursuant to RSA 461-A
- Probate Division Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions