Area of Law:
Domestic violence is a particularly pervasive problem because it can go on regularly within the four walls of the home, which is supposed to be a safe haven from all the dangers of the outside world. Each state has its own remedies and methods for obtaining a solution; however, there is a similar general process that most states follow when dealing with issues of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Protection Order
Tennessee law defines domestic violence as when a household or family member commits acts of physical harm; reckless conduct, which is classified as behavior that puts a person in danger of serious harm; threats of imminent harm; destruction of property; unauthorized entry into your home; or harassment. The court will look at the nature of your relationship with the alleged abuser and determine if it fits the definition of domestic violence.
Tennessee law provides for a domestic violence order of protection for victims of domestic abuse. There are two types of orders – an temporary protection order and a extended protection order. An temporary order may be given to you on the day you file for an order of protection. It is a short term order to protect you until your extended hearing, which will take place within 15 days of filing. An extended order cannot be issued until the alleged abuser is given a chance to tell his or her side of the story. The temporary order will be issued for the length of time that you have to wait until your hearing.
After you file your petition, you will be given a hearing date, and the court will serve your alleged abuser with the appropriate paperwork that will notify him or her of the hearing date. After you and your alleged abuser are each given a chance to present your respective sides of the story, the judge will decide whether or not to issue a extended order of protection. If your petition is granted, it can be effective for up to one year, but may become extended if the court decides it is necessary. You may also renew your petition as long as you apply prior to its expiration.
If, after your hearing, you are granted a domestic violence protection order, it is likely to order the abuser to do the following things: stop threatening you; stop assaulting you; stop disturbing your peace; stop contacting you in any way; move out of any shared dwelling; stay away from any place the court finds necessary to protect you; and surrender any firearms. The domestic violence protection order is also likely to award you temporary custody of any children for up to 90 days. Any other thing that the court deems necessary to protect you and your children will depend on the facts surrounding the case.
Finding Domestic Violence Resources
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 and is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in more than 100 languages. It can help you find nearby domestic violence shelters, emergency shelters, legal help, and social service programs.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has put together a database of national organizations that can help victims of domestic violence get relief from their abuser.
Resources for residents of Tennessee who have been victims of domestic violence can be found here.