When you experience verbal or physical abuse at the hands of your spouse, you may worry about what he or she will do after a separation. With an order of protection, he or she must stay a certain distance from you or risk legal action.

Take these steps to ask Tennessee courts for an order of protection if you fear for your safety during a divorce.

Petitioning the court

First, you must submit the Petition for Order of Protection to the circuit court in the county where you live. The court does not charge a fee for this filing.

Your spouse will receive legal notification of the requested order. Both of you must attend a hearing scheduled by the court within 15 days of the petition. The judge can grant a temporary order of protection pending a hearing.

Obtaining a protective order

At the hearing, you will present evidence that your spouse has harmed or threaten to harm you. He or she will get a chance to respond to these claims and provide his or her own evidence. Based on both testimonies, the judge will decide whether your case warrants a protective order.

If you successfully receive an order of protection, it will detail the requirements your spouse must follow. The judge may require that he or she stop contacting you, stay away from your home and workplace, stay away from your pets, attend counseling or substance abuse treatment, stay away from weapons and firearms, and move out of the home you share.

Usually, an order of protection lasts for one year. You can contact law enforcement for help if your spouse violates the terms of the order.