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Domestic Violence and Stalking

What Constitutes "Stalking"?

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 16-5-90, "A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing, and intimidating the other person."

NOTE: It is not necessary for the parties to have lived together to obtain a TPO for stalking.

What Constitutes "Family Violence"?

Pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) 19-13-1, "Family Violence" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household: (1) Any felony: or (2) Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.

Legal Criteria

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-13-3, "Upon the filing of a verified petition in which the petitioner alleges with specific facts that probable cause exists to establish that family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the court may order such temporary relief ex parte as it deems necessary to protect the petitioner or a minor of the household from violence."

What is a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)?

A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a civil order issued by a Superior Court Judge for the protection of victims of Family Violence or Stalking.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-13-4, a temporary protective order can:

  • Direct a party to refrain from committing acts of family violence or stalking;
  • Grant to a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse from the residence or household;
  • Require a party to provide suitable alternative housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and the parties’ child or children;
  • Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
  • Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and order assistance to the victim in returning to it, or order assistance in retrieving personal property of the victim if the respondent’s eviction has not been ordered;
  • Order either party to make payment for the support of minor children as required by law;
  • Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;
  • Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;
  • Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;
  • Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party;
  • Order the respondent to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence

Who is Eligible to Apply for a TPO?

Before an application for a TPO can be made, an act of family violence or stalking must have occurred. The following parties are eligible to apply:

  • Spouses (present or past)
  • Parents of the same children
  • Parents and children
  • Step-parents and step-children
  • Foster parents and foster children
  • Persons living or formerly living in the same household

How is a TPO Obtained?

The first step in obtaining a TPO is the application process. A representative (advocate) of the YWCA will assist you with the required paperwork. The advocate is located in the:

Cobb County Magistrate Court
32 Waddell Street
Marietta, GA 30090

This advocate is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to assist in this process. (NOTE: Persons seeking protective orders should allow at least one hour for the screening process. Late arrival may delay the petition being heard until the following business day.)

The advocate will provide the required paperwork for parties seeking temporary protective orders. Additional duties of the advocate include, entering information into the state computer system and screening cases before bringing said matters before the presiding judge.

Petitions are heard twice daily (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) in the Cobb County Superior Court by an assisting Superior Court Judge. Hearings are held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (NOTE: All required paperwork must be completed and entered into the state system prior to a case being presented to a judge.) In order to complete the process in one day you must arrive no later than 1:30 p.m.

If there is a finding by the judge that there is probable cause to believe that an act of family violence has occurred in the past and may occur in the future, the Court may order such relief as is deemed appropriate.

After the responding party has been served with a copy of the order by the Sheriff’s Office, a hearing will be held within 30 days. Both parties will have the opportunity to be present at the hearing. An assisting Superior Court Judge will determine by a preponderance of the evidence if it is warranted to continue the protective order for a period of up to 12 months. These hearings are held on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Where Does the TPO Apply?

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-13-4 “A protective order issued shall apply and shall be effective throughout this state.”