A protective order and a restraining order are both legal orders that are intended to protect a person from harm or harassment. They are both powerful and often-used weapons in divorce, especially when a mother tries to convince the court to help block visitation of the child’s father. To help a father through the difficult time, we have to know some key differences between the Protective Order vs. Restraining Order:
Purpose: A protective order is typically used in cases of domestic violence or abuse, where one person is seeking protection from another person who is a family member, romantic partner, or household member. A restraining order, on the other hand, can be used in a variety of situations where a person is seeking protection from someone who is not a family member, such as a co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance.
Scope: Protective orders are often more comprehensive in their scope than restraining orders. For example, a protective order may include provisions for child custody and support, financial support, and other issues related to domestic violence. A restraining order may be more limited in its scope and typically focuses on preventing the abuser or harasser from making contact with the victim.
Length: The length of a protective order and a restraining order can also differ. Protective orders can be longer in duration than restraining orders, often lasting for a year or more. Restraining orders are typically shorter in duration and can last from a few weeks to several months.
Requirements: The requirements for obtaining a protective order and a restraining order can also differ. Protective orders generally require the victim to have a specific relationship with the abuser, such as being married, living together, or having a child together. Restraining orders, on the other hand, may have different requirements depending on the jurisdiction, but generally do not require a specific relationship between the victim and the harasser.
Powerful tool by the mother to block visitation of her child’s father
In general, no matter it is Protective Order vs. Restraining Order, both can provide important legal protections for victims of abuse or harassment, and the specific type of order sought will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
All a mother has to do to issue her ex-husband a TRO (note: although TPO can be issued too but we’ll use TRO as an example) is having him to show of immediate and irreparable harm, such as a threat of physical harm or harassment. In other words, if a mother can demonstrate that they are experiencing immediate and irreparable harm from her child’s father, then they may be able to obtain a TRO. The process can be made even easier when she has the assistance of an attorney or legal aid organization.
The TRO is typically issued for a period of a few weeks to a few months. Although TROs are typically temporary and will only last for a short period, a hearing will be held to determine whether a longer-term restraining order should be issued. The TRO can turn into a very long term blocking of visitation. The father against whom the restraining order is sought will also have an opportunity to present their own evidence and arguments. However, once the TRO is set, violating the TRO can have serious consequences, including criminal charges and jail time.
A father during and after divorce might face the following types of Protective Order or Restraining Order:
Domestic Violence TROs:
These are restraining orders issued in cases of domestic violence, where one person in a domestic relationship has committed or is threatening to commit physical harm or abuse against the other. The order can require the abuser to stay away from the victim and their home, to avoid contacting the victim, and to surrender any firearms.
These are restraining orders issued in cases where a person is being harassed or stalked by another person. The order can require the harasser to stay away from the victim, to avoid contacting the victim, and to stop any harassing behavior.
Child Custody TROs:
These are restraining orders issued in cases of child custody disputes, where one parent is threatening or attempting to harm the other parent or the child. The order can require the person to stay away from the child or the other parent, to avoid contacting the child or the other parent, and to abide by any custody or visitation orders.
All of the TROs above can assert serious repercussions on the father to whom the TRO is being filed against. It might force the father to fight not only in the family court, but in the criminal court at the same time. It might cause the father to lose the income source (the job) while being effectively blocked from visiting his dear children.
Protective Order vs. Restraining Order: Should you still visit the house?
When you are still TRO-free, you have to be careful about every visitation to avoid being issues a TRO.
I know it sounds ridiculous as you know you are a very nice person who won’t do any harm to the child’s mother. Well, some of the fathers that we know never pick a fight in their childhood, but they still get a TRO from their wife for something they have never done (or an exaggerated version of what they have done, such as ringing the bell during legal visitation time). Your ex-wife likes to issue TRO against you because it’s very effective. It takes into effect immediately and it continue to have effects during the “investigation”. A TRO effectively turns an innocent-until-proven-guilty justice to guilty-until-proven-innocent scheme. The person (often the ex-wife) filing the TRO won’t be charged or investigated for filing a rescinded TRO because it’s never possible to prove someone definitely innocent.
When you sense you might be in the process of being issued a Protective Order vs. Restraining Order, how do you decide whether or not to approach your ex-wife and your child for legal visitation?
Did the child’s mother said you cannot come over?
This has become a common question with no answer. The child’s mother always said something like you don’t have to come over to pick up your daughter. If it’s in a message, you can reply with something like you want to take more clothes to her, etc. And when you go to the house, just be gentle and careful. You should have some kind of recording device with you at all times to prove yourself innocent in case she filed a TRO against you for approaching her house. Since it’s a legal time for visitation, you are just using your right of visiting your own child, and you can record her incompliance for the reference in future court cases.
Did you send a lot of angry messages or messages in large quantity to her?
Some fathers had a fight with ex-wife online by sending her curse words, angry audio recordings, or just a large quantity of one-directional (from you to her) messages. At this time, if you appear at her house, you might be issued a TRO for your potentially unfriendly intent. If you have done that to your ex-wife, don’t worry. You can send her more friendly messages to “wash out” the unfriendliness in the conversation. Other harassing behaviors which might result in TROs against you include such things as making unwanted phone calls, sending threatening messages, or spreading false rumors about your ex-wife.
Did you make threats to her?
If you have threatened or attempted to harm your ex-wife, even in a calm manner via text messaging, you may still obtain a TRO. The threat doesn’t have to be so serious before it can be used as an evidence to file a TRO. It can be a simple sentence like: “If you don’t do this, I will do that.” When it can arouse the fear within your ex-wife, she can claim to the court that she needs a TRO to protect herself.
Were you stalking her?
If you are stalking your ex-wife or your children by following them, showing up at their home or workplace, or engaging in other forms of unwanted contact, your ex-wife may be able to obtain a TRO to prevent you from continuing to stalk them. We know you just want to be close to them. You want to know what they have been doing. You might be missing them too much that you want to follow them. Just be careful about that.
Did you enter the house at unwanted time?
You will be a certain target of being issued a TRO when you cause the so-called “Property damage”. It happens when the ex-wife claims you are damaging your ex-wife’s property, such as by vandalizing his car or breaking into his home. When you use a door key to enter the house which is not owned by you at unwanted time, it can be seen as a “break-in”.