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Information on Protective Orders

DISCLAIMER: This is intended to be an educational and informational guide.  It is not intended to be or to substitute for legal advice and representation.  Law, legal requirements, and procedures vary from place to place.  It is advisable to consult an attorney.

What is a Protective Order, and who can obtain one?

A Protective Order is a civil order from a Judge that tells the abuser he/she must:

  1. Not abuse, harass, or disturb the peace of the protected person, in any place, public or private.
  2. Not contact the protected person or any member of the protected person’s household, directly or indirectly.
  3. Not enter the property of the protected person. 

Anyone who has been physically abused or threatened with abuse by a relative or romantic partner, or who has been sexually assaulted or stalked, can get a Protective Order. If a child is the only person in a household needing a Protective Order, a parent or legal guardian may file the petition on his/her behalf. 

Please note - Because a Protective Order is a civil, not criminal order, filing a Protective Order does not get the respondent (person against whom you have filed a Protective Order) “in trouble.”  The only way the Protective Order causes the respondent to face charges is if he/she violates the order.

Where can I file a petition for a Protective Order?

A Vanderburgh County resident may file a petition for a Protective Order at the Vanderburgh County Clerk's Office, Vanderburgh County Courts Building, 825 Sycamore Street, Evansville, Indiana.  There is no charge to file a petition for a Protective Order.  If there is a related divorce or paternity case, the Protective Order petition will be merged with that case.

Is there anything I need to bring with me to file a Protective Order?

You will need to give the respondent’s (person against whom you have filed a Protective Order) name, sex, race, height, and weight (approximations are okay), hair color, eye color, and date of birth.  You must also know an address where the respondent can be served with the order.

What happens when I file the Protective Order?

When you have completed the forms, you should take them back to the Clerk’s Office.  At that time, the Clerk will assign your petition to a Judge, and you will be sent to that Judge’s Office.  The Judge will review the petition and may ask you a few questions.  If the Judge grants the petition, he/she will sign the temporary order and probably set a hearing date. You will be sent back to the Clerk’s Office with the signed order.  The Clerk will furnish you with a copy of the order to be kept with you at all times. The temporary Protective Order will be valid only until the next hearing date. A permanent Protective Order (usually lasting two years) may be granted at that time. If you do not return to the Judge’s Office at the scheduled time, the order will be dismissed.  If the Sheriff cannot serve the papers on the respondent at the address you provided, the protective order will be dismissed.

What takes place at a Protective Order hearing?

The respondent (the person against whom you have filed the Protective Order) and the petitioner (you) are ordered to report to the Judge’s Office. The parties are separated after they have checked in at the Judge’s Office.

The Court will ask the Petitioner whether she/he still wants a Protective Order and ask the respondent whether he/she objects to the Protective Order. If no controversy exists and both parties agree, the permanent Protective Order will be granted and both parties will be given signed orders. When appropriate or upon request, the Judge may speak with both parties to make sure they understand the seriousness of the Protective Order proceeding and the consequences of violation.

A permanent Protective Order is usually valid for two (2) years, but the Court has the authority to alter this time frame.

If there is controversy and the parties do not agree, the matter is "contested", in which case a hearing is held in a courtroom, jury room, or the Judge's chambers, depending upon available space.  Neither party is required to hire an attorney, but both parties have the option to do so.  Information to help prepare for the hearing can be found at:

If either party, or the Judge, requests the presence of a uniformed Deputy Sheriff, every effort is made to have one present during the proceedings.

Both parties have a fair opportunity to testify under oath as to the facts which are relevant to whether a Protective Order should or should not be granted by the Court, and for what period of time. Each party has the right to cross-examine the other party. Other issues may also be resolved at the hearing (i.e., return of property to rightful owner, parenting time for the respondent if applicable, etc.).

What is a Protective Order violation?

A Protective Order violation is any contact with the petitioner. Some examples of violations are telephone calls to the petitioner, driving by the petitioner’s residence, letters, emails, having a third party contact the petitioner on the respondent’s behalf, and/or going to the petitioner’s workplace. In cases where children are involved, contact with the petitioner to arrange parenting time is usually allowed and does not violate to the Protective Order.

To whom do I report a violation?

It is a crime to violate a Protective Order.

Call 911 and report the violation!

Keep a copy of the Protective Order with you at all times.  If a violation of a protective order occurs, report it to the police.  Then obtain the police report and take a copy to the Prosecutor's Office on the first floor of the Civic Center in Room 108 and press charges.  A written log of violations including dates, times, locations, and witnesses help the Prosecuting Attorney.

Can I be charged with violation of my own Protective Order?

No. But if the respondent has a Protective Order against you prohibiting you from contact with the respondent, you are subject to criminal charges for actions which violate the Protective Order.

This information is provided through the cooperation of the following agencies:

Vanderburgh County
Judges and Magistrates
Prosecutor’s Office
Sheriff’s Office
Clerk’s Office
Evansville Police Department 
Albion Fellows Bacon Center
If you need help in filing a Protective Order, call:
Albion Fellows Bacon Center:  812-422-5622


YWCA:   812-422-1191 

For additional information: