Part 1: General Information
When someone in Georgia believes they might be in physical danger as a result of family violence or stalking behavior, he/she can pursue a protective order through the county courts which insulates that person within a 'no-contact ring' that prohibits an offending party from having any direct or indirect contact – whether in-person, by phone, email, text or through a third party – with the protected party.
In Georgia, no-contact protective orders are only issued in the context of either family violence (a violent act occurring between family members or those currently or formerly living in the same household) or in the case of stalking (a pattern of unwanted contact that represents a potential threat to safety). These court orders are temporary in nature (i.e. six months to one-year) and are called Temporary Protective Orders, a.k.a. TPOs. [Note: At or near the expiration of a 6 or 12 month TPO, this 'permanent' TPO can be converted into a 3-year TPO under certain conditions].
Violations of a TPO can have dire consequences in the form of immediate arrest of the violator for the criminal offense of 'Aggravated Stalking' (a non-bondable felony) or, if the impermissible contact of is of a less egregious nature, 'Violation of TPO' (a high and aggravated misdemeanor).
When the parties are married or have children together, these orders can contain terms similar to the custody/parenting/support/division of property terms found in a divorce case. Orders prohibiting contact can become very cumbersome in the context of spouses and/or parents of the same children inasmuch as a court that considering the limited issued of no-contact are nonetheless empowered to render short-terms decisions on custody and support that can have long-term impact.
TPOs can be a valuable aid for those who are genuinely concerned for their safety due to family violence or stalking. However, the TPO process is also subject to considerable abuse and is often falsely or unfairly deployed by someone looking to gain undue advantage over another party or as a disingenuous means to an ulterior end. Since the county courts in Georgia are used to seeing this potential for abuse in the TPO system in Georgia, TPO cases should not be taken lightly…either by someone that honestly needs a court to place that no-contact 'safety-ring' around them, or by someone defending themselves against a party that may be wrongfully seeking government-mandated restrictions on the other party's conduct.
The outcome of a TPO case is very hard to predict and, many times, depends as much on the individual judge assigned to the case as on the actual facts of the case. One thing that is easy to predict, however, is that TPO litigants who come to court unprepared fare far worse than those who are prepared. To this extent, the wise litigant in a TPO case will look to hire a lawyer.
Since beginning my practice in Gwinnett County and around metro Atlanta in 1995, I have accumulated vast experience in handling TPO cases whether in representing the plaintiff (a.k.a. the "Petitioner") or the defendant (a.k.a. the "Respondent"). In earning its reputation for success in handling TPO cases in Gwinnett County and elsewhere in metro Atlanta and Georgia, Fox Firm, P.C. works hard for every single client to be prepared to prevail. If you are a party to a TPO case and find that the smartest way to deal with the question of a court order for protection is to hire the personal protection of a committed and experienced attorney, please contact Fox Firm, P.C. at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 770.277.4883.