A Rhode Island restraining order attorney explains the proper Court to file a restraining order in RI. Generally, restraining orders between family members, ex-family members or people with a child together should be filed in Rhode Island Family Court. Restraining orders between girlfriends and boyfriends without a child together or roommates should be filed in District Court. Unrelated persons and people in landlord / tenant relationships need to file restraining orders in RI Superior Court. More information
RI Family Court Restraining orders
There are three types of restraining orders that can be filed in Rhode Island Family Court:
- Complaint Protection from abuse
- COMPLAINT FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER WHEN EITHER PARTY IS A JUVENILE
- Civil restraining order
Complaint protection from abuse restraining orders:
- If the restraining order is against your husband or wife or ex-husband or ex-wife or against a family member by blood or marriage then it should be filed in Rhode Island Family Court.
- If there is a pending Rhode Island divorce, then the restraining order against a spouse should be filed in Family Court.
- If an RO is needed against a person who you have a child with, then the restraining order should be filed in Family Court.
- A restraining filed by a juvenile or against a Juvenile must be filed in Rhode Island Family Court.
- A restraining order brought by a parent on behalf of the minor child against another parent must be pursued in the Family Court.
- Before obtaining a restraining order, a person should Consult a Rhode Island lawyer.
- Please note that this article does not address the grounds necessary to obtain a RO. Please contact Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer, David Slepkow.
Exactly who can file a complaint protection from abuse restraining order in RI Family Court
- “Present or former family members.”
- parents- “Parents” mean persons who together are the legal parents of one or more children, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time.
- Persons who are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year in which at least one of the persons is a minor.
- Parents or guardian’s can file on behalf of a child and themselves
Who constitutes a “present or former family member?”
A present or former family member means the following people can file an abuse restraining order in RI Family Court:
- the spouse,
- former spouse,
- minor children,
- or persons who are related by blood or marriage.” TITLE 15 Domestic Relations CHAPTER 15-15 Domestic Abuse Prevention SECTION 15-15-1 § 15-15-1. Definitions.
Temporary Child Support for up to 90 days
In a Complaint Protection from Abuse, the Family Court may award temporary child support, visitation, and temporary custody of the children. The Court can also award visitation and in some instances may order supervised visitation. The Court can order that the Defendant vacate forthwith and remain out of the household. The Court can also order that a person take batterers classes or drug and alcohol counseling. The Court can order drug and alcohol testing. The Court can also order the defendant to Surrender possession of all firearms / guns to the Police department. The court can order that the Defendant “surrender physical possession of all firearms in the Defendant’s possession, care, custody, or control and further order the Defendant be restrained from purchasing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive any firearms while the protective order is in effect.”
Complaint for a protective order when either party is a Juvenile
When either party is a juvenile, the following abuse complaint may be filed: “COMPLAINT FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER WHEN EITHER PARTY IS A JUVENILE.” It is important to note that violation of this type of restraining order is not a crime in itself and is punishable by contempt. However, if a person is found in contempt of this order they could possible be imprisoned. This is distinguishable from a complaint protection from abuse set forth above in which a violation is a crime in itself. This type of Juvenile protective order if filed on behalf of a minor, would be filed by a parent or guardian on behalf of one or more minor children. There is no requirement for a family relationship or a dating relationship for this type of restraining order. This restraining order is analogous to a Superior Court restraining order.
Civil Restraining Order different from abuse restraining orders in Family Court
There are two types of Family Court restraining orders, “Complaint Protection from Abuse” and a civil restraining order. In a Complaint Protection from Abuse, the Court has jurisdiction to issue a RO for up to 3 years. (If the parent seeks a restraining order on behalf of a child against the other parent, then the restraining order can only be for one year.) Violation of a Rhode Island Complaint protection from abuse restraining order is a crime. A violation of a civil restraining order is not a crime but is punishable by contempt. Please note that civil restraining orders are not nearly as effective as a complaint protection from abuse restraining order and when sought are typically part of a divorce.
District Court restraining order Jurisdiction:
- If the RO is against a current boyfriend or girlfriend or an ex boyfriend or girlfriend who you had a substantive dating relationship within the prior year but you have no child with, then Rhode Island District Court is the proper Forum.
- If you have a child with your current or ex boyfriend/ girlfriend then the restraining order should be filed in the Family Court. (see above)
- A RO against a current roommate can be filed in District Court.
- Violation of a District Court Restraining order is a crime.
The following people can file a District Court Abuse Restraining order:
- Emancipated minor
- Person eighteen (18) years of age or older
- Not related by blood or marriage to the Defendant
In order to file a a RI District Court Restraining order, you must have the following relationship with the defendant:
- “Defendant and I together are not the legal parents of one (1) or more children.
- Defendant and I have resided together within the preceding three (3) years.
- Defendant and I are presently residing in the same living quarters.
- Defendant and I have had a substantive dating relationship within the preceding year.
- My relationship was created by the Defendant’s conduct thereby granting jurisdiction to the District Court under applicable statutes.” District Court complaint
RI Superior Court Restraining order:
If you are seeking a Restraining order against a prior friend, neighbor, landlord or anyone else then the restraining order must be filed in Superior Court. Violation of a Superior Court restraining order does not constitute a crime. Violation of a Superior Court Restraining order is punishable by contempt which could potentially lead to a period of incarceration.
What is the difference between a Restraining order and a no contact order?
A no Contact order is an order issued as a result of a criminal charge. A no Contact order issues at an arraignment either at the police station or at Court. Violation of a no contact order is a crime in itself and may constitute a violation of Probation or a filing. A no contact order expires when the case is over (dismissal or not guilty finding) and at the end of any probation, filing or suspended sentence. A Restraining order stays in effect until the date designated on the restraining order.
If there is a no contact order protecting me in Rhode Island should I also obtain a RO?
A no contact order expires when a case is dismissed. It is also terminated when a person is found not guilty or after any sentence is completed (probation / filing / suspended sentence / deferred sentence) The No Contact order will expire when probation or a filing or suspended sentence is over. If you feel you need protection in case the no contact order expires and are in fear of the person then you may consider seeking a restraining order in family Court, Superior Court or District Court in addition to the no contact order. If there are issues concerning child support and visitation then you may want to seek a restraining order in addition to a no contact order.