The Rhode Island Family Court has jurisdiction to grant restraining orders if the parties are related by blood or marriage, if the parties have a child in common, or if either party is a minor. In order to obtain a restraining order on behalf of yourself or a minor child, a Petition for Protection from Abuse must be filed with the court. This petition can also request that the Family Court address issues of custody, placement, visitation, and child support should the parties have a child or children in common. However, any such order will be temporary in nature.
Upon the filing of a Petition for Protection from Abuse, the Court may grant an ex-parte restraining order and set the matter down for hearing. At the hearing on the merits, sufficient evidence, in the form of sworn testimony, must be presented by the party seeking the restraining order to establish one of the following: the defendant attempted to cause the Plaintiff physical harm; the defendant placed the Plaintiff in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or that the defendant caused plaintiff to have sexual relations by force, threat of force, or duress. Should the court find that the plaintiff has met the burden of proof, a restraining order may be granted for up to three (3) years.
The Defendant in a Protection from Abuse matter has the right and opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff, and any other witnesses that the plaintiff might present, present his or her own witnesses, and take the stand in his or her own defense. If you are a defendant in this type of action, an attorney will not be appointed to represent you. You must retain your own counsel unless you wish to proceed without a lawyer.
Whether you have been subject to abuse, or have been served with a Petition for Protection from Abuse, you should speak with an attorney experienced in handling such matters. Contact Attorney Friel today at (401) 737-4200 x23.