ADULT ABUSE ACT- Protection from Abuse, Domestic Violence, Harassment, and Stalking

IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED, HARASSED OR STALKED

If you believe that you are the victim of domestic violence, abuse or stalking, you may obtain a restraining order under the Adult Abuse Act. Abuse is defined as assault, battery, coercion or harassment. Stalking is defined as “purposely and repeatedly engag[ing] in an unwanted course of conduct that causes alarm to another person.” 455.010.

The circuit clerk for each county provides forms for this order as well as clerks to assist the petitioner or applicant. You will be asked to provide the specific facts or instances of the abuse, domestic violence or stalking. If you have a child that is a victim of domestic violence, you may apply for a child order of protection. As the petitioner, it is important to be specific about the facts when applying to the court for this order. You should consider hiring an experienced attorney to represent you so that you understand the process of applying for the order.

Upon completion, the petition is immediately taken to a judge who will decide whether or not the order should be issued. If the application adequately describe facts that indicate “an immediate and present danger of abuse to [you or the child], the petition is granted, then and there, without notice to the respondent. This is known as an ex parte(one-sided)order.

If the judge orders a temporary ex parte order, a full hearing is also set for no more than 15 days later and the respondent is served by any sheriff or police officer at least three days before the scheduled hearing. 455.040. 1 and 2. If service is not accomplished, the court will continue the hearing to attempt service again.

At the hearing, the parties may represent themselves or hire counsel to represent them. Having an attorney for the hearing is very advisable if you decide that you will not be able to convey your position effectively, wish to begin additional legal proceedings for a divorce or paternity action, or think that the other party will abuse your position in court.

For an experienced St. Louis Divorce Attorney, contact The Law Offices of Rose Ann Feldman.