The following information is provided as a public service by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. This is a summary of Indiana law and does not contain all of the legal provisions. The last paragraph of this section provides phone numbers and addresses for additional assistance or information, as well as links to forms and information online.

 

What is a Protection Order? [ top ]

Protection Orders are similar but not identical to what had been called Restraining Orders or Peace Bonds. A Protection Order is a civil order issued by a judge that directs a person (“The Respondent”) to have no contact with you (“The Petitioner”). The Respondent cannot contact you in person, by telephone or computer, or through another party. Also, the Respondent will be not allowed to possess a firearm while the Protection Order is in effect.

 

Who can apply for a Protection Order? [ top ]

Under Indiana's new Civil Protection Order Act “a person who is or has been a victim of domestic or family violence may file a petition for an order for protection against a family or household member who commits an act of domestic or family violence.”

If you are a victim or parent or legal guardian of a victim of domestic or family violence committed by a family or household member you may file a petition for protection and a request for a hearing. A judge or magistrate will decide if you have legal grounds for the granting of a Protection Order.

 

What acts are considered to be “domestic or family violence? [ top ]

Only the following acts qualify as domestic or family violence:

  • Attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing physical harm to another family or household member without legal justification
  • Placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm without legal justification
  • Causing a family or household member to involuntarily engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress
  • Stalking
  • Sexual offense

 

Who is considered to be a family or household member? [ top ]

In order to qualify to file a petition for a Protection Order you must be able to describe your relationship with the Respondent (person to be restrained) as your family or household member:

  • The Respondent is, or used to be, my spouse
  • The Respondent and I are dating, or have dated, each other
  • The Respondent and I are, or have been, engaged in a sexual relationship
  • The Respondent and I have a child in common
  • The Respondent and I are related by blood or adoption
  • The Respondent and I are related by marriage
  • The Respondent is, or used to be
  • My guardian
  • My ward
  • My custodian
  • My foster parent
I am a minor child of a person in one of the types of relationships listed above.
The Respondent has committed stalking against me.
The Respondent has committed a sex offense against me.

If your relationship with the Respondent is not described above, the Court will not grant your petition for a Protection Order.

 

Can Protection Orders for victims of stalking and sexual offenses only be obtained against family or household members? [ top ]

No. Protection Orders can be obtained for victims of stalking and sexual offenses against non-family or non-household members if the person has committed the act of stalking or a sexual offense against the Petitioner for the Protection Order.

 

Can I apply for a Protection Order against my neighbor with whom I cannot get along? [ top ]

No. If you have a legal problem with a neighbor you should talk with a lawyer to find out about your options. If the dispute includes harassment or abuse you can also file a report with the police. If criminal charges are filed against the person who is harassing or abusing you, you may be able to obtain a No Contact Order as part of the criminal case.

If you are not certain whether the problem with your neighbor amounts to a crime, you can contact the police or the Prosecutor's Office Victim Services Division to speak with someone about your concerns.

 

Where do I need to go to file a Petition for a Protection Order? [ top ]

You can file for a Petition for a Protection Order at:

Small Claims Court in South Bend
1855 Courthouse, 112 South Lafayette St.
Phone: 574-235-9794
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

Small Claims Court in Mishawaka
County Services Building, 219 Lincoln Way West
Phone: 574-256-6214
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday

 

Legal assistance with Protection Orders is available through the Protective Order Project of the Family Justice Center.  Staff and volunteers can assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking with the process of completing a protection order application and with additional services.  Appointments are available by contacting the Family Justice Center, although walk-ins are also welcome. 

Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County
711 East Colfax Avenue, South Bend
Phone: 574-234-6900
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday

 

What if I currently have a divorce, custody, or paternity action pending with a person I want to get a Protection Order against? [ top ]

If you currently have a divorce, custody, or paternity action pending before a Superior, Circuit or Probate Court judge, you must apply for a Protection Order in that judge's court. If you have an attorney representing you, contact him or her about filing a Petition for a Protection Order.

 

Where do I get the forms needed to file the Petition? [ top ]

You can get the forms at Small Claims Court or online at the following links:

If you are filing for a Protection Order for yourself or onbehalf of a child, you will need the following form:

Protective Order Form Packet
 

If you cannot view/print the Form Packet, you will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download it free by clicking on the logo below:
get_adobe_reader.gif

You will need to fill in the forms and print them. You will not be able to save the changes on your computer.

 

What information will I need in order to fill out the Petition? [ top ]

You must have the following information about the Respondent to request a Protection Order:

Correct full name;
Correct and current address; and
Correct date of birth or Social Security Number.

Additional information that will be helpful to have about the Respondent:

Identifying characteristics of the Respondent, such as:
  • Race
  • Hair color
  • Weight
  • Scars
  • Tattoos
  • Employer's name and address
  • Telephone number(s)
  • Addresses frequented by the Respondent

 

How long is a Protection Order valid? [ top ]

Protection Orders are valid for up to two (2) years from the date of issuance.

 

Is my Protection Order enforceable outside of St. Joseph County? [ top ]

Protection Orders are enforceable in all fifty states. You should keep a copy of your Protection Order with you at all times.

 

What if I have a Protection Order that was issued in another county or state? [ top ]

The Protection Order will still be in effect, but you should keep a copy of your Protection Order with you at all times and register the Protection Order with the local Small Claims Court so that the local law enforcement agencies will have a copy on file. You will need to bring a copy of your Protection Order to Small Claims Court and will need to complete two documents, both of which are also available online:

Registration of Foreign Protection Order
Confidential Data Entry Form for Foreign Protection Orders

 

Is there a cost for obtaining a Protection Order? [ top ]

No, they are free

 

Where can I get information regarding No-Contact Orders which can be issued in cases involving juveniles and in criminal cases and Workplace Violence Restraining Orders? [ top ]

Please see www.in.gov/judiciary/forms/po/faq.html for additional information.

 

Who can I call or see for additional help regarding Protection Orders? [ top ]

Your can call or visit:

Small Claims Court in South Bend
1855 Courthouse, 112 South Lafayette St.
Phone: 574-235-9794
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

Small Claims Court in Mishawaka
County Services Building, 219 Lincoln Way West
Phone: 574-256-6214
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

You are also welcome to call or visit:

Special Victims Unit
533 North Niles Ave., South Bend
Phone 574-235-7818
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County
533 North Niles Ave., South Bend
Phone: 574-234-6900
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday

Both the Special Victims Unit and the Family Justice Center will be happy to assist you in filling out the forms and answering any questions you might have. It is very important to remember, though, that the Protection Order will be valid ONLY after a Judge from one of the two Small Claims Courts has signed the order