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What Is an Emergency Protective Order (EPO)?

An EPO is a restraining order that the police can get for you by telephone 24 hours a day, whether court is open or not. An EPO is very temporary - it is valid for five business days or seven calendar days. There is no fee for an EPO.

How Do I Qualify for an EPO?

You qualify for an EPO if you are in immediate and present danger of domestic violence, based on a recent incident or threat of abuse, and if the on-duty judge finds that the EPO is necessary to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence. You are most likely to be granted an EPO after calling 911 in an emergency.

Your abuser must be someone you are or used to be married to, living with, dating or engaged to, or someone you have a child with, or are related by blood, marriage or adoption.

What Can an EPO Do?

The EPO can order the abuser not to contact you, to stay away from you, and to move out of your home immediately until the order expires or you get a longer domestic violence restraining order. The EPO can also award you temporary care and custody of children you and the abuser have together. Violation of an EPO is a crime.

How Do I Get an EPO?

Call the police and request an EPO when the abuser hurts or threatens you. The police can call the on-duty judge and request an EPO. If the judge grants the EPO, the police will give you a copy of the order. The EPO is valid when served on (handed to) the abuser. The police are required to serve the abuser if he can reasonably be found. If not, you may have to get someone else to serve the abuser or call the police and have them serve him the next time he shows up.

You should keep the EPO with you at all times, and attach a copy of it to your application for a longer restraining order.

Remember: It is very important that you go to get a permanent restraining order since the EPO only protects you for five to seven days.

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