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Restraining Orders - VT
(Called a Relief from Abuse Order in Vermont)
If this is an emergency, call 911.

In Vermont, restraining orders are called 'Relief from Abuse Orders' or 'RFAs'. If you are feeling unsafe or in danger because of recent abuse, and you would like to ask a judge for an RFA against your current or former partner, there are two ways to do it. 

Emergency RFAs (after hours)
  • If it is outside of normal business hours and you do not feel safe waiting until the Family Court is open, you may go to your local police department to file a petition for an Emergency RFA
  • Call the WISE Crisis Line (866-348-9473) to see if an advocate is available to accompany you. WISE advocates cannot give legal advice or tell you what to write, but they can support you and answer questions through the process. Most police departments are willing to call the WISE Crisis Line for you when you arrive if you have not done so already.
  • At the police station, the police will need to call an after-hours court clerk who will come to the police station to help you fill out the paperwork and communicate with the judge on call. You may want to make sure that the police call the clerk as soon as you arrive because it may take the clerk some time to drive to the police station. The WISE advocate should have the forms with them, so you can work together on filling them out while you wait for the clerk. The forms include an "affidavit" in which you will be asked to write down exactly what happened and why you are requesting the order.
    • You can also download the forms here and take them with you. 
    • You can use these forms just to see what they look like or you can print them out, fill them in and bring them with you to the police station. If you choose to fill them out in advance, do not sign the forms until the clerk asks you to.
  • When your paperwork is complete, the clerk will look it over and call the judge on call to relay the information (either reading it over the phone or faxing to the judge). The judge will decide whether or not to grant the order based on the information in the paper work.
  • If the order is granted, the police will "serve" the order to the defendant. The order is not in effect until it is served. You may call the police department to find out whether or not the order has been served, and you will be asked for information to aid the police in finding the defendant.
  • While you are waiting for the order to be served or if the order is not granted, talk to a WISE Advocate about other safety planning options.
  • Once the order is granted, it is usually valid until the Final Hearing, which the court will schedule. The Final Hearing is the time when the judge hears from both parties and decides whether or not to grant a Final Relief From Abuse Order, which may be valid for up to a year. In Windsor County all final hearings are scheduled for Monday mornings. A WISE Advocate will usually be available at the court to talk with you prior to your hearing. There will also be a short video at 8am on what to expect from your hearing. Click here to learn more about how to prepare for the hearing
  • In general, it is a good idea to carry a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to keep copies in your car, at your work, with your boss, at your child's school, etc. 
  • Remember, if the defendant violates the order in any way, they have committed a crime. If it is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise call the police in the town where the violation occurred to make a report and to get help enforcing the order. You may also want to keep a written log of violations. 
Temporary RFAs (regular business hours)
If the Family Court in your area is currently open, or you feel safe enough to wait until it is open, you can go directly to the Family Court to request an order. 
  • Call the WISE Crisis Line (866-348-9473) to see if an advocate is available to accompany you. WISE advocates cannot give legal advice or tell you what to write, but they can support you and answer questions throughout the process. 
  • At the court house, the court clerk at the window will give you several forms to fill out. Usually the clerk will also call the WISE Crisis Line to find out if an advocate is available to assist you. 
  • Once you have completed the forms, give them to the court clerk along with a photo ID. You will have to swear that you have written the truth, and then the clerk will give the forms to a judge. You do not have to wait for the judge to rule on your order, but you may want to because you will be responsible for delivering the order to the police if it is granted. While you are waiting, you can talk with a WISE Advocate about  safety planning options and your next steps depending on whether or not the order is granted.
  • If the order is granted, you will need to bring a copy of the order to the police department in the town where you live. If your police department is closed, you may have to bring the order to the State Police barracks in Bethel, VT. If you are not planning to go back to your town right away because of safety reasons, or you do not have transportation, talk to a WISE Advocate. There may be a closer police department that can help with serving the order.
  • If the judge grants the Relief from Abuse Order, it will not become valid until it is served to the defendant. You will have to bring the granted order to the police department, and the police will serve the order to the defendant.
  • When the order is granted, a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether or not to grant a "Final Relief from Abuse Order" which could last up to one year. Talk with a WISE Advocate if you have questions about what to expect at the hearing. In Windsor County all Final Hearings are scheduled for Monday mornings. A WISE Advocate will usually be available on that morning, and there is a training video on what to expect starting at 8am. Click here to learn more about how to prepare for the hearing
  • In general, it is a good idea to carry a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to keep copies in your car, at your work, with your boss, at your child's school, etc. 
  • Remember, if the defendant violates the order in any way, they have committed a crime. If it is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise call the police in the town where the violation occurred to make a report and to get help enforcing the order. You may also want to keep a written log of violations. 
Final Relief from Abuse Order
  • A Final Relief from Abuse Order may be issued by a judge following a hearing at which both parties are present. At the hearing the judge will ask each person to tell his or her side of the story. Click here to learn more about how to prepare for the hearing and what to expect. 
  • If the judge decides to grant a Final Order, the hearing is often the time when long-term arrangements are made such as scheduling a time for a person to get his/her belongings or arranging for visitation of children
  • Call WISE to find out if an advocate may be available to accompany you to the hearing or to talk with you about what to expect. WISE cannot give you legal advice about what to say or not say, nor can an advocate testify at the hearing, but a WISE Advocate can provide support and answer general questions. A WISE Advocate can also help you make a safety plan for next steps if the order is or is not granted. If possible, contact WISE as soon as you know the date of your final hearing. You may want to meet with an Advocate prior to your scheduled hearing. 
  • You are not required to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing, but you are allowed to have one. Many people find themselves anxious and emotional at their final hearing. This can make it difficult to organize your evidence and think clearly, so a lawyer may be helpful. If you decide you would like a lawyer to accompany you to the hearing, WISE may be able to help you find one. Click here for more information
  • If the Final Order is granted, click here to learn more about next steps. 
  • In general, it is a good idea to carry a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to keep copies in your car, at your work, with your boss, at your child's school, etc. 
  • Remember, if the defendant violates the order in any way, they have committed a crime. If it is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise call the police in the town where the violation occurred to make a report and to get help enforcing the order. You may also want to keep a written log of violations. 
As you look through the pages of this section, please keep in mind:

Internet SafetyThere are many ways for an abuser to track your computer or internet use. In many cases, it may be safer to use a computer that your abuser has never had access to, such as a computer in a public library, community technology center, or at the home of a trusted friend. To learn more about protecting yourself while using the internet, visit the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Internet Safety Page.

Disclaimers: This website was created strictly for informational purposes and in no way should be construed to constitute legal services, advice or representation. Please consult an attorney in your state for legal advice pertaining to your particular situation.

Many pages on this website include links to other websites. All links will open a new window and direct you to an external website. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the links included, WISE does not assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided on an external website. Any links to external websites should be construed only as intended to imply potential interest to the reader, not as a referral of any kind.

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WISE provides services to victims/survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking regardless of gender or gender identity/expression, age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental or emotional ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation.

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