Family Violence

Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A)

§19-13-1 “Family Violence” defined.

As used in this article, the term “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.

The term “family violence” shall not be deemed to include reasonable discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.

§19-13-2 Jurisdiction of superior court.

(a) Except for proceedings involving a nonresident respondent, the superior court of the county where the respondent resides shall have jurisdiction over all proceedings under this article.

(b) For proceedings under this article involving a nonresident respondent, the superior court where the petitioner resides or the superior court where an act involving family violence allegedly occurred shall have jurisdiction, where the act involving family violence meets the elements for personal jurisdiction provided for under paragraph (2) or (3) of Code Section §9-10-91.

§19-13-3 Filing of petition seeking relief from family violence; granting of temporary relive ex parte; hearing; dismissal of petition upon failure to hold hearing; procedural advice for victims.

(a) A person who is not a minor may seek relief under this article by filing a petition with the superior court alleging one or more acts of family violence. A person who is not a minor may also seek relief on behalf of a minor by filing such a petition.

(b) Upon the filing of a verified petition in which the petitioner alleges with specific facts that probably 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.  If the court issues and ex parte order, a copy of the order shall be immediately furnished to the petitioner.

(c) Within ten days of the filing of the petition under this article or as soon as practical thereafter, but in no case later than 30 days after the filing of the petition, a hearing shall be held at which the petitioner must prove the allegations of the petition by a preponderance of the evidence as in other civil cases. In the event a hearing cannot be scheduled within the county where the case is pending with the 30 day period the same shall be scheduled and heard within any other county of that circuit. If a hearing is not held within 30 days, the petition shall stand dismissed unless the parties otherwise agree.

(d) Family violence shelter or social service agency staff members designated by the court may explain to all victims not represented by counsel the procedures for filling out and filing all forms and pleadings necessary for the presentation of their petition to the court. The clerk of the court may provide forms for petitions and pleadings to victims of family violence and to any other person designated by the superior court pursuant to this Code Section as authorized to advise victims on filling out and filing such petitions and pleadings. The clerk shall not be required to provide assistance to persons in completing such forms or in presenting their case to the court.  Any assistance provided pursuant to this Code Section shall be performed without cost to the petitioners. The performance of such assistance shall not constitute the practice of law as defined in Code Section §15-19-51.

§19-13-4 Protective orders and consent agreements; contents; issuing copy of order to sheriff; expiration; enforcement.

(a) The court may, upon the filing of a verified petition, grant any protective order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of acts of family violence. The orders or agreements may:

(1) Direct a party to refrain from such acts;

(2) Grant to a spouse possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other spouse from the residence or household;

(3) Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing for a spouse and his or her children;

(4) Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;

(5) 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;

(6) Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law;

(7) Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law;

(8) Provide for possession of personal property of the parties;

(9) Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering with the other;

(10) Award costs and attorney’s fees to either party; and

(11) Order either or all parties to receive appropriate psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to prevent the recurrence of family violence.

(b) A copy of the order shall be issued by the Clerk of the Superior Court to the sheriff of the county wherein the order was entered and shall be retained by the sheriff as long as that order shall remain in effect.

(c) Any such orders granted under this Code Section shall not remain in effect for more than six months; provided, however, that upon the motion of a petitioner and notice to the respondent and after a hearing the court in its discretion may convert a temporary order granted under this Code Section to a permanent order.

(d) A protective order issued pursuant to this Code Section shall apply and shall be effective throughout this state. It shall be the duty of every superior court and of every sheriff, every deputy sheriff, and every state, county, or municipal law enforcement officer within this state to enforce and carry out the terms of any valid protective order issued by any court under the provisions of this Code Section.

§19-13-5 Supplemental nature of remedies provided by article.

The remedies provided by this article are not exclusive but are additional to any other remedies provided by law.

§19-13-6 Penalties

(a) A violation of an order issued pursuant to this article may be punished by an action for contempt.

(b) Any person who violates the provision of a domestic violence order which excludes, evicts, or excludes and evicts that person from a residence or household shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.