Domestic Violence

TENNESSEE DIVORCE LAWS

A victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault should always seek help from the court, especially when minor children are involved.

If you are a victim of domestic violence (1) You have the right to file a criminal complaint with the district attorney general (D.A.) or (2) You may request a protection order.

A protection order is meant to protect a victim from domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault and does so in the following ways:

  • Directs the abuser to refrain from committing domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault or threatening to commit domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault against the victim or the victim’s minor children.

  • Prohibits the abuser from coming about the victim for any purpose, from telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, directly or indirectly.

  • Prohibits the abuser from stalking the victim.

  • Granting the victim possession of the residence or household by evicting the abuser.

  • Directs the abuser to provide suitable alternate housing for the victim.

  • Awards temporary custody of, or establishes temporary visitation rights with regard to, any minor children born to or adopted by the parties.

  • Awards financial support to the victim.

  • Directs the abuser to attend counseling to address violence and control issues or substance abuse problems.

  • Directs the care, custody or control of any animals.

  • Directs the abuser to immediately vacate a residence shared with the victim.

  • Directs the abuser to pay the victim all costs, expenses and fees pertaining to the victim’s breach of a lease or rental agreement.

If a temporary order of protection is issued, then a hearing on whether it should be dissolved, extended, or modified will be held within fifteen (15) days of service. A victim of domestic violence will have the right to be present at the hearing. If the victim has proved the allegation of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, then the order of protection will be extended for a definite period of time, not to exceed one (1) year, unless a further hearing is requested by victim; in which case, such order may be continued for a further definite period of one (1) year, after which time a further hearing must be held for any subsequent one-year period.

If an abuser violates the order of protection, the court may extend the order of protection up to five (5) years. If an abuser is found to be in a second or subsequent violation of the order, the court may extend the order of protection up to ten (10) years.

Firearms

If an order of protection is granted, the a person subject to an order of protection will be prohibited from being in physical possession of firearms, and must transfer any firearms they have to a third party within forty-eight (48) hours. It is a criminal offense for a person subject to an order of protection to possess a firearm while the order is in effect, and the order of protection may terminate or suspend the individual's right to purchase or possess a firearm.

Where to File

A victim of domestic violence should file for an order of protection in the county where the abuser resides or the county where the domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault occurred. If the abuser is not a resident of Tennessee, then a victim of domestic violence can file in the county where they resides.

Criminal Charges

A temporary order of protection will be issued against an abuser when arrested for a crime involving domestic violence, if the court finds the abuser either (i) Caused serious bodily injury or (ii) Used or displayed a deadly weapon. A victim of domestic violence does not need to be present at the time the temporary order of protection is issued.

For more information concerning domestic violence in Tennessee, contact us and schedule a consultation. We are here to help navigate you through the Tennessee domestic violence process.

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