Civil protective orders do not require an arrest in Iowa, so even if the police didn’t charge your spouse with abuse, you can still file a restraining order against him or her. To prepare for the petition, write down a detailed history of your abuse with approximate dates.
In general, you’ll want three main details: the first time you were abused by your significant other, the most recent time they abused you, and the most severe harm they’ve caused you. If you’re feeling scared or nervous about the outcome of the protective order, try to arrange for a place to stay beforehand. If you have a relative nearby, their place might be ideal—otherwise, find the Polk County shelter at the Children & Families of Iowa domestic violence page here.
Filing a restraining order has 3 simple steps.
Go to the nearest courthouse and find the clerk. Request a petition for a protective order, fill it out, and the clerk will help you communicate the details of your abuse for your meeting with the judge. After the clerk is finished with your form, you’ll meet with the judge shortly afterward. He or she will ask you questions about your abuse: how long it has been going on, the extent of the abuse, and the most recent time you were physically abused or threatened.
Based on your written petition and your answers, the judge will issue a temporary protective order to keep your spouse from approaching you, communicating with you, or visiting your home or workplace.
You do not have to serve the protection orders yourself, nor do we recommend facing your abuser before your hearing. If you choose to move out rather than force your significant other to leave, you can request a police escort to protect you while you pack up your things. However, you are within your rights to ask your abuser to leave your home—no matter whose name is on the title or lease.
Once the orders are served, they take effect.
Your protective orders are only active until your formal court hearing. At the hearing, you and your spouse will argue for or against permanent protective orders. Any evidence will need to directly relate to the abuse you alleged in the petition, so it’s important that your petition is thorough and detailed. To maximize your chances at a favorable outcome, you’ll also want a family lawyer to represent you.
At the Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, our family law attorneys have protected abuse victims by helping them fight for safety, child support, and a fair and equitable divorce. Call (515) 200-7571 for help.