Can I get a domestic violence restraining order even though I am under 18?

In most states, you can apply to get a domestic violence restraining order even if you are under 18, but you must have an adult’s name on the court papers and that adult must ask for the order on your behalf. The adult can always be one of your parents or your legal guardian. But, if you don’t want (or are scared) to tell your parents what is happening, you may still have some other options.

In some states a judge must approve of the adult who you choose to go to court with you instead of your parents (called a guardian ad litem). For this to happen, you must fill out paperwork asking for the adult to be your guardian ad litem, and a judge must approve the request. In other states, you still have to have an adult appear with you in court, but there’s no additional paperwork to fill out and the judge doesn’t have to approve of who you choose. In either case, for example, if you have a teacher, aunt, sister, friend or other adult you trust, that person can go to court with you and file the restraining order for you.

Several states will allow you to go to court to get a domestic violence restraining order alone, without involving your parents or any adults. Most states that allow minors to apply for restraining orders on their own require that you are at least 16 years old. A few, however, let minors of any age, or minors 12 or older, to go to court without an adult.

Depending on the laws in your state, there are very big differences in what protection is available to you if you are under 18 and seeking a restraining order. If you are thinking about getting a restraining order and you are under 18, you need to find out what specific requirements your state has.

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