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What is an Emergency Protection Order?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 16, 2024
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An emergency protection order, or temporary restraining order, is a restraining order granted quickly to protect the health and safety of an individual. The evidence required is less stringent to obtain this type of order than to obtain a more permanent restraining order. Such orders are often granted by family court judges in cases of domestic violence, to protect victims.

A restraining order in general is a form of legal protection. A person can obtain a restraining order against someone who is threatening or harassing him. When a restraining order is in place, the person who is prohibited from approaching his victim would be found in violation of the law if he came too close to the plaintiff.

To obtain a permanent restraining order, the victim must show a clear pattern of harassment on the part of the defendant. The judge will evaluate the evidence and, if he determines it is in the victim's best interests and in the interests of justice, will put a restraining order into place. The order will stipulate how close the defendant can get to the victim, and if the defendant comes closer than he should, the victim can call the police and have him arrested.

Since it can take some time to get a restraining order, an emergency protection order provides a more immediate alternative and is considered a stop-gap measure until more permanent protection can be granted. Such an order can be issued with a much shorter waiting period and without a full and formal presentation of evidence. Sworn testimony on the part of the victim may be enough for a judge to issue an emergency protection order.

This type of restraining order is only good for a limited period of time. It still, however, has the full protections associated with any restraining order. This means the victim can call the police in this situation as well and have the defendant arrested if he approaches in violation of the emergency protection order.

Such orders can be issued by a family court judge or by a judge in a criminal court. There are numerous reasons a judge may issue an emergency protection order. Domestic violence, harassment, stalking and other related crimes in which one individual encroaches on the personal space and rights of another are all appropriate situations for the issuance of such a protection order.

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Discussion Comments

By anon316464 — On Jan 28, 2013

My husband's ex-wife placed an emergency order of protection on him when we went to pick up the kids for a regular weekend visitation. My husband and I were in the neighborhood for a family function and it was 45 minutes before pick up time. We called her house phone (which we learned later was unplugged from the wall during the week so he could not get in touch with the children). Then he called her cell phone and there was no answer. So I suggested we go to the house to see if we could pick them up early since it was two streets away.

When my husband went to the door, she screamed at him and said he needed to call. My husband said he did, but no one answered, that we were just stopping by since we were in the area to see if the kids might be ready. She said, “I haven't packed them yet. Who the hell are you to come by early? You come back in 45 minutes.” He said, “I tried to call and no one answered your phone.” We went to pick up a pizza and came back and the police were in the driveway. They immediately arrested my husband for disorderly conduct with the children watching and crying from their bedroom windows. She proceeded to get an emergency order of protection on her and the children and told the police that she felt threatened because "he was screaming profanities" (which was not true) and feared for her children's lives.

About $4,000 later (attorney fees), the case was thrown out because the "witness" they had couldn't remember the fabricated story they made up the day of the arrest. She had no consequences for her lies and my husband and I had to just swallow a $4,000 fee for them.

When will the law start protecting the good Dads? He pays extra child support. He pays for all the sports equipment, sports fees and purchases clothes, and attends every sporting event for both children. She is bitter and has expressed to me she is jealous that he and I have a family and she doesn't. I feel for my husband because he has lost faith in the law. When will the law start to make the person who lies liable for paying the attorney fees for the innocent victim?

By anon306641 — On Nov 30, 2012

I've been falsely accused of rape by my ex. She was given an emergency restraining order on nothing more than her false statement. I have never touched nor harassed or followed her. This is ridiculous.

By dajoker1216 — On Mar 05, 2012

Yes, many women are actually using orders of protections for purposes other than what they were intended for. An emergency order of protection essentially allows a mother to get herself, as well as any of her children, "protected" with little to no proof to back up her accusations. The intent is for the court to err on the side of caution and give the person the benefit of the doubt, regardless of whether or not the allegations are true.

I was engaged to a woman for approximately two years and had been with her a year prior to that, though I had known her for about two years even before then. I was deployed to the Middle East while she was pregnant. Our daughter was born when I was home on leave. I moved back in when I returned. Things were good at first but started to get rocky. Approximately eight months after I got back, we decided to separate. I moved back in with my parents, who lived two towns away, for the interim. We started patching things up etc., however, we ended up having a brief argument in public (no yelling) and I simply left.

After that, I was pushing to get her to go with me to see a mediator regarding the custody of my daughter. I was also wanting to get all of my belongings out of there (nearly 90-95 percent of all of the electronics were mine and about 70 percent of the furniture was as well.) It was at this point that she went to get an emergency order of protection against me (while I was on Army National Guard drill). I found out from my parents after two deputy sheriffs visited their home at one in the morning.

I retained a lawyer the first day I could. I obtained a copy of the police reports (domestics, not to be confused with domestic battery) and a copy of the order of protection. I was able to prove that she was lying on two accounts in the narrative portion of her sworn testimony (that I supposedly took her phone from her while she was calling 911 and threw it against a wall shattering it, etc.) before the judge in order to get an emergency protection. I was also able to show that she told the police that our argument was only verbal and that nothing physical had happened. However, she claimed that I was pushing her against furniture (causing bruises) all the while holding our infant daughter in our arms.

The order of protection was squashed. I then submitted my parentage packet to seek custody. I knew that she couldn't afford it at the time, however, that was no longer my concern. I ended up getting 50 percent joint custody. With me out of the house, she no longer had my money, not to mention she had to replace most of the electronics as well as the furniture that I took. This was compounded by the fact that she had a foreclosure on her home and filed for bankruptcy (I was unaware this had happened, but I was quickly made aware when I ran an exhaustive background check on her) and her car broke down. Financially speaking, she was exhausted financially.

It was actually rather sad when I went to the home and saw a refrigerator with less than a fifth of the food in it in contrast to when I was living there (she had two sons from a previous marriage). Eventually, she rolled the dice and apparently started selling cocaine (I am sure one of her friends encouraged or recommended it) and she was pulled over for drunk driving and enough cocaine was found in her possession that she was charged with a Class X felony (though it got reduced to a call 1 or 2, whichever is worse, with probation). I was notified by the police to come and get my daughter. I immediately sought a police report and took it to the courthouse the very next day to seek an order of protection against the mother. I was granted it and I denied her as well as her mother and sister (I have proof that they conspired against me, trying to get me to violate the initial order of protection) though I did allow for visitation by her brothers. I got it for the duration of her entire trial.

I knew that it was a matter of time before she would violate the order or protection that I had, sine there is no way that she could go without seeing her daughter for three to four months (she lacks the discipline that I do) and as soon as she pulled into my parents' driveway, I called the police to notify them of what was happening. I did not open the door, but I did talk to her through it to keep her there until the police arrived. She was arrested and charged with another felony (which violated her probation.)

Not only did I end up getting full custody of our daughter, but she also lost her teaching license as well as any job that would involve her being around kids.

Prior to that, and while she had the initial order of protection, she moved down by her mother and sister (who lived an hour and a half south). Her eldest son ran away (he was 13) and it took over a week to find him. Her kids now hate her completely, and she is at my mercy as to whether or not I will let her see her daughter. For the time being, I only allow the mother to see our daughter two times a month and only for two hours at a time under the guidelines of a supervised visit.

That being said, yes, it is very easy for women to get orders of protection. While not all will lie to get one, there is a substantial portion of women who would. It is free and allows them to be separated from the man. They get to live the life, enjoying all of their things without having to pay the piper. It is also an express lane to getting child support payments.

However, while it is easy to get, the majority of them are squashed because most women don't have proof to back up the allegations that they are claiming. I, for one, truly feel sorry for any women who is being abused. However, I also keep in the back of my mind that such things (in addition to rape) are statistically one of the most falsely reported crimes.

My ex-fiancee played the game idiotically. She rolled the dice and thought she could lie her way to getting our daughter all to herself. Now she is getting to the age of "Where is mommy?" Eventually I will have to tell her the truth.

For the women who are truly in abusive relationships, I feel sorry for you and am glad there are things such as emergency orders of protection for you.

For the men, if you get one, don't contact the woman or any people associated with her, nor any of the protected parties on the order of protection. The ramifications of not only having an order of protection against you, but violating one as well, are staggering.

I am a teacher of 11 years and an Army National Guard Officer. I have a security clearance and have no criminal convictions whatsoever. However, just having an order of protection against me to stick would not only have precluded me from being a teacher, but in the military as well. That being said, take such things very seriously and don't hesitate for one minute to get a lawyer. Not only is an order of protection a means to denying you immediate visitation with your children, but it an impediment to maintaining any meaningful form of employment.

By John57 — On Dec 05, 2011

@andee - As far I am aware, restraining orders are also public information that anybody can see.

My sister had a domestic violence restraining order against her husband. This man was even part of the police force and physically and emotionally abused my sister for many years.

He was so concerned that other people would know about the restraining order because he didn't want to lose his job or look bad.

This was a gradual process for her, as there are many conflicting emotions involved. At first she had a harassment restraining order against him. This seemed to only made him more angry.

She finally got the courage to really stand her ground and stick up for herself. Getting the restraining order was just one of the first steps in getting her life together and getting out of the relationship.

By andee — On Dec 04, 2011

In many cases an emergency protection order eventually becomes a permanent restraining order.

One of my friends was married to a man who tried to abuse her teenage daughter. She was immediately able to get an emergency restraining order until they were able go to court.

After their court proceedings, there was a permanent restraining order put on this man. He also served time in jail and is now on the registered sex offender list.

My friend was really thankful for the temporary restraining order, as it seemed to take a few months before everything else was settled legally.

He was very difficult to deal with, and she was always afraid there would be a restraining order violation.

I would not have put it past him to do something like this to try and get even. She didn't sleep very well until she knew he was locked up for awhile.

I know that the sex offender list is public information, but also wonder if something like restraining order information is made public as well?

By fify — On Dec 04, 2011

@ysmina-- No, it does not.

I don't know which types of restraining or protection orders provide an officer to protect the victim, but keep in mind that an emergency protection order is temporary. It's only effective for about a week, and victims generally apply for this if the court is not available. If someone is a victim of abuse and harassment, they need to get a permanent protection order from the court.

As for your other question, even if the victim doesn't have time to call the police and the batterer or harasser violates the order rules, he or she should still call the police afterward to file it. When the police is convinced that an assault has taken place, they will arrest the harasser even if they didn't see him violate the order.

If it's a really sensitive and dangerous situation, there is also something called the emergency dialer that victims can buy. Pressing a single button will call the police for the victim.

By orangey03 — On Dec 03, 2011

@kylee07drg – Unfortunately, restraining order law does allow a parent to seek an order that could keep them from taking their child out of a designated region. When my mother divorced my dad, she got one that prevented him from taking me and my sister over the county line.

We resented her for doing this, because he used to take us to amusement parks during the summer. Our county was small and boring, so we couldn't do anything fun after that.

She was just being protective of us, but I think she should have given him more freedom. He had never done anything to make her think he would harm us, so other than just to be overly controlling, I don't know why she felt this order was necessary.

By kylee07drg — On Dec 02, 2011

My brother is going through a divorce right now, and his ex-wife is threatening to get an emergency protection order that would keep him from being able to travel with his daughter. She has it in her mind that he wants to kidnap her, so she feels she needs the law on her side.

He would never take his daughter away from her mother. I think this is ridiculous, because they always used to go to a lake a few hours away and spend the day swimming and hiking. Can she really keep him from taking her anywhere?

By seag47 — On Dec 02, 2011

I had to get an emergency protection order after I broke up with my boyfriend. He began stalking me. He kept driving past my house, and he would show up wherever I happened to be.

His behavior was absolutely creepy, and I did not feel safe. He had been telling me that if he committed suicide, it was all my fault. He kept leaving gifts on my doorstep, and I knew that he was mentally unstable.

I had no problem getting a restraining order, which he promptly violated. I had him arrested, and while he was in jail, I moved across town. I am hoping that he will be unable to find me when he gets out, because a restraining order can only do so much to protect me.

By cloudel — On Dec 02, 2011

@alisha – Emergency protection orders are definitely being abused by some people. I had one issued against me, and I did nothing to deserve it.

I had been dating a guy at work for two years, and we finally broke up. We remained friends, and he started dating another girl at work.

She did not like the fact that we still talked at all. She felt threatened by me, and she warned me to stay away from my ex.

She actually went to a judge and got an emergency protection order by lying to him and saying that I was making death threats against her. Because of her, I lost my job. I sued her and eventually won, but I will never get that job back.

By discographer — On Dec 01, 2011

A buddy of mine had a bad breakup with his girlfriend. But then they got back together and broke up once again. He's a really nice guy and I know him really well. He has never abused, harassed or threatened her. He was actually really kind to her and let her keep all of the stuff they had while living together. Despite all this, she filed for a restraining order and managed to get an emergency one.

This is probably rare, but I think some women do abuse the law and use restraining and protection orders when they just don't feel like seeing their ex anymore. This is horrible because a perfectly nice guy is getting a bad name for no reason.

I wish people would use their rights when they really need to and in all honesty. Then the whole legal system would work much better. Especially when there is a relationship that is over, there is a lot of vengeance and if the law allows, people try to use it to hurt each other. That's why I think law enforcement needs to be really careful when they're looking at protection order requests.

By ysmina — On Dec 01, 2011

Does an emergency protection order ever assign a police officer to protect the victim?

I can see how an emergency protection order can be beneficial when there isn't enough time to get a permanent one and a victim is afraid of being attacked or harassed. But if the harasser is really dangerous, is an emergency protection order really enough to protect victims?

I mean, people can easily get hurt or even killed before they can give a call to the police. I can think of dozens of situations where that could happen. Then, it would be too late and the emergency protection order would be useless.

By jennythelib — On Nov 30, 2011

@rugbygirl - Absolutely, there are organizations that can help. It is wonderful that you want to help your cousin, and a great way to help is by helping point her toward resources for getting a restraining order or order of protection.

I had a friend who went to law school and spent one summer working for a legal aid society. Helping people get orders of protection was one of his main jobs! You can look for a legal aid society in your cousin's area to help her out.

You might also try local law schools. You are looking for the "legal clinic"; many schools have these and will take on a limited number of clients with this kind of problem.

Good luck! I hope you are able to help your cousin keep safe. She should trust her instincts; the book "The Gift of Fear" is also really helpful in judging when people might become dangerous.

By rugbygirl — On Nov 30, 2011

@anon130684 - I don't see anything in the article about that situation. My only thought is that if the employee had been threatened with some sort of physical retribution, a protective order could be appropriate.

My young cousin has an ex-boyfriend who is really starting to scare her, but she doesn't have any money for a lawyer. Does anyone know how to obtain a restraining order *without* a lawyer? It seems like there must be some way to get help for the most vulnerable - those without cash to protect themselves.

By anon130684 — On Nov 29, 2010

if a federal employee stole from their employer, why would an emergency protective order be obtained?

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