Protection Order and Restraining Order Records

Protection Orders come in different varieties. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is usually granted after an ex parte hearing (only one party is present in court). A TRO provides that one party must refrain from certain acts, or stay a certain distance away from a particular person or place. Once the TRO is granted, a copy of the TRO must be served on the person who is to be restrained. The TRO remains in effect until the hearing for a request for a permanent Restraining Order, which is usually 15-20 days after the TRO hearing. A permanent Restraining Order can remain in effect for a year or more. Protection Orders related to domestic violence are only issued in relation to a domestic relationship, such as spouses, parents, and domestic partners.

Now that you know a little about these Orders, the next question is where to locate the court records related to these Protection and Restraining Orders. Cases for Restraining Orders and Protection Orders are considered civil cases and therefore the records can be found in whichever court hears civil cases. These are all general jurisdiction courts, so depending on the structure of the States’ court system, these courts may have different names including Circuit Court, Superior Court or District Courts. provides information regarding the structure of every court system in the United States. Retraining orders related to domestic violence are considered Domestic Relations/Family Court cases. These records will also be found in general jurisdiction courts. However, in some states, such as Delaware, these cases are only found in the Family Court.

The circumstances surrounding Protection and Restraining Orders are usually very sensitive. So, although many states, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), have created requirements that allow the public to access court records, they must also remain committed to the protection of privacy in certain situations.

If you are a person involved in a case in which an Order was issued, you may generally view all the information in the court record, if you provide proper identification. In most states, the identity of the victim in an Order is confidential. In North Dakota, according to their public access rule, information in a protection or restraining order related to domestic violence cannot be viewed by the public, except under specific orders by the court.�

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