How Do I Get a Protective Order in Louisiana?
Getting a Protective Order in Louisiana
About this Video Series
The video series below breaks down the process for getting a Protective Order in Louisiana into six steps.
- Completing the Petition
- Notarizing the Petition
- Filing the Petition
- Service of the Petition
- Hearing on the Petition
- Next Steps
Each video explains important details about each step. You can watch all six videos, regardless of where you are in the process.
Getting a Protective Order in Louisiana
The video below explains the first step in the process to get a Temporary Restraining Order and a Protective Order by filling out a Petition for Protection from Abuse. When you fill out your Petition for Protection from Abuse, you can ask for only a protective order or both a protective order and a temporary restraining order.
Temporary Restraining Order vs. Protective Order
A temporary restraining order is issued when the judge finds that a person is in immediate danger of abuse and it expires very quickly, usually on the day that the hearing is set for the Court to decide whether to issue a protective order. A protective order is a long-term order meant to protect a person from abuse.
Louisiana Protective Order Registry Forms
There are specific forms required to get a protective order and they can be found here or at your local courthouse. You need to fill out the forms as completely as possible. Some information you will need:
perpetrator's name, home address or any other address where he or she can be served with documents, and
names and dates of birth of any minor children you want to be included in the protective order.
You will need to pay attention when filling out Paragraph 8 of the form. You will need to provide the details of the abuse as completely and accurately as possible. Try to remember the specific date of the incident, but if you cannot, describe the instance clearly enough so that the perpetrator will know which instance you are talking about. You should add any and all instances of abuse because during the hearing the judge may only allow you to talk about instances described in your petiiton.
Requesting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
To request a TRO, fill out Paragraph 9 of the petition. You will have to mark each box next to the acts you want the court to restrain the perpetrator from doing. The judge will not issue an order with any restrictions that you did not ask for. You do not have to ask for a TRO.
Pending Divorce or Custody Case
If you have a divorce or custody case that’s already been filed, you will also need the suit name and number, the name of the court, and the dates of the last hearing and next hearing involving your divorce or custody dispute. If there is a custody order in place, you will need a copy of the custody order. You can get this information by contacting the clerk of court’s office.
You will need to check a box to mark the law that applies to your case. Louisiana's Domestic Abuse Assistance Act applies when both the people involved in the domestic abuse are family members or live in the same home. Other laws include:
- Protection From Dating Violence Act (applies to individuals in romantic or dating relationships);
- Protection From Stalking (applies when the perpetrator is a stranger or acquaintance and the violent act involved is stalking); and
- Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act (applies to divorced parents or parents no longer living together).
It is not necessary to attach any proof of your claims to the petition. But, if you have it, you should attach to your petition copies of any documents you have that prove your claims. These could be:
- pictures of injuries
- screen shots of text messages or emails
- copies of hospital bills or
- anything else that supports your claims.
If your screen shots of emails or text messages show that you have contacted the perpetrator, that’s ok. A judge can still grant a protective order or TRO if you had contact.
The last page of the Petition for Protection from Abuse is an affidavit that must be notarized. You will need to sign the petition in the presence of the notary. Once you sign it, the notary will also sign it and may stamp it with a notarial seal. The video below explains how you can get the affidavit notarized.
Courthouse or Bank
First, you should call the court to see if the clerk of court is a notary or if there is a notary that you can go to at the court. Another option, if you have a checking or savings account, is to call your bank and ask if they provide notary services. Notary services at the courthouse or bank are usually free, but make sure to ask about fees. You may need to set an appointment at the bank or there may be limited hours that the notary is available at the courthouse.
Legal Services Providers
You may also be able to contact your local legal services provider, like Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, to see if you are eligible for their notary services.
Otherwise, you will have to go to a notary public. Notaries public usually charge a small fee for their services. Call ahead and see how much it will cost to get your document notarized and how the notary takes payment.
Valid Personal Identification
When you go to the notary, whether at the courthouse, bank, or a notary public, you must have a form of identification, so the notary knows that you are who you say you are. If you do not have a valid government-issued ID (state ID, driver’s license or passport), you should bring a person who can verify your identity.
The video below explains where you should file your Petition for Protection from Abuse and how the filing process at the courthouse should go. It is important to file it in a proper court.
Your Petition for Protection from Abuse must be filed in the right venue. The proper venue is the court a parish that has the ability to grant the relief you requested.
Pending Divorce or Custody Case
If you are filing against a spouse and there is a petition for divorce pending, you must file the Petition for Protection from Abuse as part of the divorce in the parish where the petition for divorce has been filed. Likewise, if you have a pending custody case, and you are seeking a protective order on behalf of the minor children subject to the custody case, you should file the Petition for Protection from Abuse in the same parish where the custody case is pending.
Filing Against a Spouse or Household Partner
If you are filing against a spouse and there is no divorce pending, you can file in the parish where the marital home is located. If you are filing against a person who lives in your household but is not your spouse, you can file in the parish where the shared home is located.
You can also file in the parish where:
the abuse occurred.
you currently live.
Your abuser currently lives.
You will not need to pay any filing fees when you file a Petition for Protection from Abuse on a Louisiana Protective Order Registry approved form.
At the Courthouse
When you get to the court to file your petition, you should ask the clerk of court what the next steps are. In some courts, the clerk of court will give your petition to the judge. In others, you will take the petition straight to the judge yourself. If you have requested a temporary restraining order, you should ask the clerk if you will be able to wait for the judge to decide on the TRO.
Requesting a TRO
If you have requested a TRO, the judge will decide whether to grant it. If it is granted, the judge will fill out a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order. You will get a copy of it, a certified copy will be served on the perpetrator of the abuse, and a copy will be sent immediately to the Louisiana Protective Order Registry.
Setting a Hearing
If you requested a TRO and it was granted, the judge will set the hearing for the protective order within three weeks. If the TRO is not granted, the hearing will be scheduled more quickly—usually within 10 days. If the judge denies the petition, there will not be a hearing set.
The next video explains what you need to know about service of your Petition for Protection from Abuse and the temporary restraining order, if you requested one and it was granted.
Coordinating Service of Process
When you go to court to file your petition, you should ask about service. The clerk of court will send the documents to the sheriff's office.
Usually, a sheriff's deputy in the parish where you file the petition will serve the other person with a certified copy of the petition, notice of the hearing, and, if a TRO was granted, serve them with the TRO. The sheriff's deputy will go to the address or addresses you provided on the LPOR form. This is why you must put an address where the perpetrator can be reached when you fill out your petition. If you don't kow their home address, you can list their work address or any address of a place where you know he or she is likely to be.
Serving Someone in a Different Parish
If the address of the person named as the defendant on your Petition for Protection from Abuse is in a different parish than where you filed the petition, the sheriff will send the documents to the sheriff of the parish where the person's address is located so they can be served.
Multiple Attempts at Service
The sheriff's office will usually attempt to serve the defendant up to five times. If the sheriff cannot serve them after 5 attempts, the sheriff will let the court know that they have been unable to make service.
Failure of Service or Service Not Made
The failure to make service will affect the hearing date because there cannot be a hearing until the defendant is served. You should call the court a day or two before your hearing date and ask if the defendant has been served. Have you case number with you when you call.
If the defendant has not been served, you will still have to go to court on the hearing date. However, when you get to court, you will get a new hearing date. You should bring any witnesses or evidence you have to the hearing, even if there has not been service, because the defendant may come to court even if they have not been served. Dodging service or appearing in court even when they have not been served are both tactics used by defendants in domestic abuse cases.
The video below explains the hearing that the Court will have after you file a Petition for Protection From Abuse. In some parishes, the hearing will be before a district judge. In other parishes, it will be in front of a hearing officer. You can check this list of Courts That Have Authorized the Use of Hearing Officers. You can also review these court-specific rules for domestic violence protective orders.
The Hearing - Judge
There will be a hearing on the request for a protective order. Even if the judge granted the TRO, it is not a guarantee that they will also grant the protective order. You should take the hearing seriously. Your attendance is required. If you do not attend the hearing, it is likely that the judge will dismiss the case.
The defendant is also required to attend. If the defendant has been served, and they do not appear, the judge may grant a continuance of the case to another hearing date or the judge might rule in your favor.
Hearing Officer Conference (HOC)
A hearing officer is an attorney who has experience in family law, but they are not a judge. The hearing officer's job is to listen to your case and make a written recommendation to the judge about the protective order. Witnesses are not allowed to attend Hearing Officer Conferences.
Each court has slightly different rules about the forms that are required to be filled out before an HOC, whether a case is randomly assigned to a Hearing Officer on the day of the hearing or whether you will know beforehand, whether you are allowed to bring evidence, and how the conference is handled. You should call the court as soon as you know that you have an HOC and ask what you should do be fore the HOC. You may be served with the forms that are required to be completed.
At the HOC, the Hearing Officer will listen to both parties' sides of the story. They will then write their recommendation (whether the judge should grant the protective order). The Hearing Officer will tell you the recommendations and you will receive a copy of the written recommendations before you leave.
Even if the Hearing Officer recommends a protective order, you will not leave the hearing with a protective order. If you have a TRO, you should talk to the Hearing Officer and clerk of court before you leave the courthouse and make sure that your TRO does not expire until at least 15 days after the conference. This way, the judge will have time to sign the protective order before the TRO expires.
If you do not agree with the Hearing Officer's recommendation, you have the right to object. When you leave the hearing, you can ask the clerk of court what form you need to complete to object to the Hearing Officer's decision. If you are unable to do that at the time, you can return later. However, you must fill out the form and file it with the court no later than five days after the conference. Then, the court will set a date and time for a hearing before the judge.
If you do not object to the recommendation, the defenant might still do so. If no one objects, it is likely that the judge will adopt the Hearing Officer's recommendation. If the Hearing Officer recommends a protective order, the judge will fill out a new Uniform Abuse Prevention Order. You and the defendant will both be served with a copy of the order.
Bench Hearings Before a Judge
The hearing will be a "bench hearing," which means it will be heard by the judge, and not a jury. At the hearing you can represent yourself. If you will be representing yourself, check out our Guide to Going to Court on Your Own. You can also get an attorney to represent you. Even if you do not have an attorney, the defendant may show up in court with an attorney.
Proving Your Claims
You must prove your claims of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that you have to prove that it is more likely that the events of abuse occurred than that they did not occur. You do not have to prove that the defendant would have been found guilty in a criminal trial.
Evidence can be testimony or documents that you present to the court to prove that the incidents of abuse occurred. Any evidence that you attached to your petition will only be evidence if you ask the judge to admit it into evidence at the hearing. This means it is not automatically considered by the judge. You have to bring it up at the hearing.
You should bring at least 4 copies of any documents you attached to the petition. Give the judge the copies and ask them to admit the copies into evidence. If you did not attach any documents to your petition, you can stil lbring documents to court to use as evidence. Documents that can be used as evidence include:
- screen shots of text messages
- copie sof emails
- call logs from your telephone service provider
- social media posts
- certified medical records
While police reports are generally not accepted into evidence, any statements you or the defendant made directly to police officers that are included in the police report can be used as evidence.
At the hearing, you will be able to offer testimony. This means you can tell the court your side of the story. When you testify, you will be "sworn in," which is when you will promise to tell the truth. You may sit on the witness stand or stand at the table when you testify, depending on what the judge or your attorney instructs you to do. Other people, like friends, family members, or witnesses can also testify in support of your version of the events. You should know that your witnesses may be asked to leave the courtroom while you testify or while other witnesses testify. They will not be able to hear what other witnesses say.
If you want to have someone testify as a witness, they must be at court when the hearing starts. If you think it would be helpful to have the police officer testify, you will have to file a request for a subpoena before your court hearing. Know that any person who testifies in court can be questioned by the other party, or, if the other party has a lawyer, the lawyer can question them.
If a protective order is granted, the judge will fill out a new Uniform Abuse Prevention Order. The defendant will be served with the order in open court, so that you can see they have received it. If they are not in the courtroom when the order is granted, the order will be served on them by the sheriff at the address you put on th eform. Either way, the order is effective from the moment it is granted and not when it is served on the defendant.
The video below explains what happens when a court grants a protective order and how you can have it enforced, if needed.
Leaving court with a protective order can feel exhilarating and overwhelming. You should also feel proud for taking the necessary step of getting a protective order.
What Does It Mean to Have a Protective Order?
Once you have a protective order, the defendant has to leave you alone. Usually, the protective order:
requires the defendant to stay at least 100 feet away from the protected person’s home or work,
tells the defendant not to contact the protected person themselves or through a third party, and
does not allow the defendant to have custody of any minor children shared by the defendant and the protected person.
You should read your protective order carefully to familiarize yourself with its terms. Some protective orders have exceptions for supervised child custody.
How Long Does a Protective Order Last?
The protective order will remain in effect for a specific amount of time. Protective orders can be effective from 3 months to 18 months after the hearing date.
In some cases, certain terms in the protective order can be granted “indefinitely,” meaning they do not expire. In other words, they are permanent orders. The term of the protective order that can remain effective indefinitely include:
the order not to from abuse, harass, assault, stalk, follow, track, monitor, or threaten the protected person,
the order not to contact the protected person personally, through a third party, through a public (or social media) posting, by any means including written, telephone, electronic (text, email, messaging, or social media), and
the order not to go within 100 yards of the protected person’s residence or place of employment.
These will only be made permanent if you ask the court to grant an indefinite protective order or the court decides that it is necessary.
Use of the Home, Child Support, and Custody
While protective orders can include orders governing the use of a home, child support, and child custody, those orders will expire and cannot be made indefinitely. This means that if you want a permanent order of child support or child custody, you will have to file a different case with the court to ask for child support or child custody orders.
Louisiana Protective Order Registry (LPOR)
A statewide database, called the Louisiana Protective Order Registry (LPOR), maintains a record of all current protective orders, temporary restraining orders, and other injunctions related to domestic violence. It is made available to law enforcement agencies, the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), elderly protective services, courts, and the Louisiana Department of Health. Whenever an order relating to domestic violence is granted, whether it is a temporary restraining order or a protective order, the judge will fax or email a copy of the Uniform Abuse Prevention Order Form to the LPOR.
Handling Violations of the Protective Order
Hopefully, the If the defendant violates the protective order in any way, you can contact the police to report the violation of the protective order. The police can search the LPOR and arrest the defendant for violating the order. In an abundance of caution, and especially if the defendant was not served at the end of the hearing, you should also keep an extra certified copy of the current protective order with you at all times. That way, if you need to contact law enforcement, you will have a copy that can be served on the defendant when the police arrive.
You can also go to court and ask for the defendant to be found in contempt for violation of the protective order. If the defendant is found to have violated the protective order, they can be arrested after the hearing at court.
Moving with a Protective Order
A protective order issued in Louisiana can protect you in any state. If you move to a new state while the protective order is in effect, call the local courthouse and ask about how to transfer the order.